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Women’s Swimming & Diving | Jumbos looking to repeat last year’s success

Strong freshman class to be an asset for the squad

Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012

Updated: Friday, November 16, 2012 08:11

wsandd

Scott Tingley / Tufts Daily Archives

The women’s swimming team will be looking to reload after losing several key athletes to graduation last year.

The women’s swimming and diving team had a successful season last year, with a third−place NESCAC finish and an impressive depth of talent. But this year, that depth will be put to the test, as upperclassmen and a large freshman class fill the spots of both last year’s strong senior class and those swimmers who are abroad or injured.

In many ways, this year will be one for rebuilding the team, as they seek to replicate the talent and versatility of last year’s squad. According to coach Nancy Bigelow, the team still has incredibly talented swimmers, including sophomore Allyson Fournier, who swims freestyle events, but finding last year’s depth may be tough.

Still, the team has high expectations that its freshman class will fill in many of the holes.

“We lost a lot of really good swimmers but we gained a lot of really strong freshmen,” senior tri−captain Amelia Rapisarda said. “We should be able to hold even.”

However, Bigelow stressed that the team will not be putting too much pressure on freshmen, especially in the first semester as they adjust to college.

“We have a very large and talented freshman class,” she said. “But they don’t know our rivalries or how the college dual meet works yet.”

Bigelow will be looking to tri−captain seniors Lizz Grainger, who is a News editor for the Daily, Christine Garvey and Rapisarda to provide leadership and stability on the extremely young team.

One area of concern for this year is the distance freestyle events. Bigelow is hoping to train more distance swimmers for this year’s meets, which requires a change in practice routines for some swimmers.

“We need people to step out of their comfort zones and take a chance,” she said. “We need to get them to love it. They have to do it.”

According to Bigelow, the team is going into the unknown in the first few meets of the season. With only two weeks of in−season training under their belts in a sport that focuses on conditioning, the swimmers won’t be at peak potential until much further into the season.

In addition, combining the talents of individual swimmers into winning lineups will take time and multiple races.

“Each class has different strengths,” Bigelow said. “We have to somehow put all those individual strengths into a mold that will win dual meets.”

The team will be looking to find the lineup that maximizes its potential quickly in order to tackle the tough dual−meet schedule that pits them against two NESCAC opponents at a time. This weekend’s meet against Connecticut College and Middlebury College has traditionally been close; last year, Tufts beat Conn. College by three points in one of their best performances of the season.

“Last year we just swam out of our minds against Connecticut,” Bigelow said. “We’re going to have to swim the same way if we want to win.”

Conn. College has strong freshmen recruits this year, although Bigelow stressed that what is on paper is not necessarily what you get.

“On paper their freshmen look stronger, but that’s why you play games and that’s why you swim meets, to find out,” she said.

On the diving side, diving coach Brad Snodgrass is looking to returning junior Sandy Bloom to provide experience and leadership for the three−woman squad. Bloom, who just missed qualifying for nationals last year, will be working toward that goal again.

The diving squad has a mixture of experience levels, but Snodgrass believes that their progress has already been remarkable.

“The team is different. We have a mixture of more experienced and less experienced divers this year,” he said. “Bloom brings a lot of diving experience and competition to the team.”

Just like the swimmers, the divers are shooting for the championship meet at the end of the year. Until then, Snodgrass is hopeful that the diving squad will be able to contribute to what is panning out to be another strong year for the swimmers.

“As far as I can tell we have a very strong swim team,” he said. “Hopefully we can contribute to the dual meet scores and have a winning season.”

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