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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

Swimming and diving teams break records, defeat Middlebury in opening meets

Senior co-captain Ailish Dougherty competes in the 1,650 freestyle at Wheaton on Jan. 21, 2017.

The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams kicked off their seasons in the best possible way at Hamilton Pool on Nov. 18, winning their first meets of the season 168–89 and 167–116, respectively.

The Jumbos cited a strong work ethic and team chemistry that the two squads share as the keys to their victories.

“I would definitely attribute this success to how close we are as teammates," sophomore Abby Claus said. "We — men’s and women’s — train together. We are always pushing each other to be the best that we can be during practice, during a set and even outside of the pool."

On the women’s side, multiple swimmers broke pool records and the Jumbos had the top times in all 16 events. Claus placed first in the 100 backstroke, posting a time of 1:00.45 — nearly a second faster than junior Grace Goetcheus, who finished second. Claus also competed in the 200 individual medley, which she swam in 2:11.24 to set a pool record.

Senior co-captain Ailish Dougherty attributed the Jumbos' success to their more ambitious objectives this year.

“The collective enthusiasm and excitement for our team goals this season ... played a large part in our domination of [Middlebury]," Dougherty told the Daily in an email. "Our goals are different and more performance-oriented, rather than process-oriented as they've been in past years, and it's largely due to our recognition and celebration of the untapped potential we hold as a women's team."

First-year Mary Hufziger had a stellar collegiate debut as she, too, broke the pool record in the 200 freestyle with a 1:56.90. Hufziger followed up that victory with a top time in the 500 freestyle, with a 5:14.14. She also competed in both the 400 freestyle relay and the 200 medley relay, emerging as a member of the foursome that recorded the fastest time in both events.

A number of the team's first-years performed well, including Jeanette Knowing, who recorded a first-place time of 28.03 seconds in the 50 backstroke, and Anne Younger who won the 50 freestyle with a time of 25.15 seconds. Returners also impressed, with sophomore Lily Kurtz placing first for the Jumbos in both the 50 and 100 breaststrokes, posting a 31.80 and a 1:08.40, respectively.

Claus reflected on how the team's training led to a successful performance in the Middlebury meet.

“Training was really tough," Claus said. "There was no resting for Middlebury -- coach [Adam Hoyt] really wanted us to go in excited to race, excited to start the season not really worried about times."

Dougherty said that the team's record-breaking showing will serve as inspiration to achieve even greater success.

“Some of our goals include breaking as many records as we can as a women's team — especially with that new record board up to show us where we need to be to do so — scoring higher than we have in past seasons at championships, sending more women to the NCAA Championships and showing up in full force to support our swimmers and divers whenever possible,” Dougherty said.

The men’s team saw similar success against Middlebury, placing first in 15 events.

“During preseason, I know everyone was working really hard and no one really slacked off, and the results showed,” junior Roger Gu said.

Like the women's team, multiple first-years had impressive debuts with three first-years posting first-place times. First-year Nate Tingen won the 50 backstroke in 24.88 seconds, while first-year Tar Tar Jarusinchai dominated the 200 medley with a time of 1:55.99. The Jumbos also impressed in the distance events, with first-year Joseph Kim posting a 4:46.48 in the 500 freestyle.

"I think it was big for the [first-years] because it was their first college meet and the coaches gave some motivational talks, but besides that, we just swam normal practices,” Gu said.

The upperclassmen also shined. Gu claimed first place and a pool record in the 50 freestyle, posting a 20.60 seconds — just short of his sub-20 seconds performance at the NESCAC Championship last year. Gu also won both the 100 and 200 free events in 47.41 seconds and 1:43.90, respectively to earn his second NESCAC Performer of the Week award in his collegiate career. Senior co-captain Kingsley Bowen also earned points for the Jumbos. He claimed first in the 100 backstroke with a time of 51.28 seconds and the 50 butterfly in 23.35 seconds.

Tufts also demonstrated in its ability in the relay events. In the 200 medley relay, Gu, Bowen and juniors Matthew Manfre and Costantino Camerano claimed first place with a 1:34.07 mark. Manfre also swam the 50 breaststroke, in which he placed first in 27.75 seconds.

Both Tufts teams will compete in the MIT Invitational this weekend, starting Friday.

“Specifically for MIT, the team is working on preparing to get up and race fast while still pushing ourselves in the pool during the weeks leading up to this meet,” Dougherty said. “It will be a challenging weekend of trials/finals that simulates how our end-of-season meets will go, so we are focusing on viewing the weekend as an opportunity to strengthen our mindsets and push our bodies to perform well even when we're tired, which will ultimately help us at the end of the season.”

The teams believe that their performance at the MIT Invitational will help them prepare for meets later in the season.

"This will be the first meet where we’re in our fast skins [swimsuits] really looking to race our best events that we will also be potentially be swimming in at our conference championships, as well as the BU Invitational later in the season," Claus said. "Both the men’s and the women’s teams have amazing [first-years], and we’re really looking to build upon the momentum that we had last week and carry it through the weekend.”