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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Thursday, February 22, 2024

Swimming and diving crushes Bates, men beat MIT in return to competition

In first competitions since December, the men’s and women’s swim and dive teams showed consistency in the water.

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Elise Fong is pictured in the Jan. 26 meet against Bates College.

The Tufts swimming and diving program returned to competition after winter break with back-to-back meets against Bates College on Friday and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Saturday. Both the men’s and women’s teams won decisive victories over the Bates Bobcats; the men’s team also defeated the MIT Engineers.

In their Friday night home meet, the Jumbos found victory over the Bobcats, with the women’s team up 198–84 and the men’s team winning 205–91.

Standout performances from the women’s team resulted in many season and personal best swims, as well as new facility records for Hamilton Pool. The meet began with a show of team strength; the Tufts women’s team won the 200 medley relay and set a pool record. First-year Elena Harrison, sophomore Quinci Wheeler, senior Jillian Cudney and junior Emma Claus came together for a time of 1:43.63. This was not the only pool record of the night for Cudney, who dropped a 25.78 in the 50 butterfly to win the event and set the record.

Sophomore Madeleine Dunn led the distance squad, winning both the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:59.94 and the 1000-yard freestyle with a time of 10:11.88, setting a new pool record in both events. Also notable were juniors Valeria Strohmeier and Cierra McCarty, who both set personal records. Strohmeier set a personal best time in the 100 butterfly, finishing in 57.33 to win the event, while McCarty was second in the 1000-yard freestyle in just 10:21.05. Overall, the women’s team won 12 of 16 events.

The win was exactly what the Jumbos were hoping for in their return to competition. While winter break offered time off from classes, the swim and dive program was just beginning some of their hardest training of the season. Training built up over the break, with no programmed rest ahead of their first meets of the semester.

“Going into a double dual meet weekend, I think everyone wanted to perform in a way that reflected how hard we've all been working since our last meet in December,” senior Katie Shelburne wrote in an email to the Daily. “Everyone is pretty broken down but our swims and dives didn't necessarily reflect that. I can't wait to see where everyone goes with some rest in a few weeks!”

Senior Will Stearns agreed.

“There is definitely more in the tank for the team in terms of how fast we can swim once we begin to rest for the championship season,” he wrote in an email to the Daily.

The pool records and personal bests on Friday night indicate that the team’s hard work is paying off. For the men, another Hamilton Pool record was set by first-year Rafae Shafi in the 1000 freestyle; his winning time of 9:40.61 was seven seconds faster than the previous record.

First-year Elias Brandt had incredible dives with a score of 286.88 on the three-meter, placing him in the top 10 all-time for Tufts. The men’s team also won 12 of the 16 events on Friday, led by breakout performances from sophomore Armaan Sikka. Sikka won two individual events, 100 freestyle and 50 butterfly, and was part of the winning 200-yard medley relay, recording a time of 1:32.65 along with junior Eric Lundgren, first-year Jack Nussbaum and graduate student Peter LaBarge.

Just a day later, the Jumbos were back in action at MIT’s Zesiger Center. The men’s team won the meet 157–136. Stearns attributed the team’s victory over MIT to a competitive attitude, which saw many swimmers making faster times than the previous day.

“We knew it was going to be close and that we needed to be even better than we were the day before against Bates,” he wrote in an email to the Daily. “It was good to see most everyone perform even better at MIT and step up as a team to pull off the win.”

The Jumbos won the first four events: After a strong medley relay, first-year Dan Godino went 9:33.75 in the 1000-yard freestyle, Sikka won the 200 freestyle and Lundgren finished out the Jumbos’ victory run with a 100 backstroke in 49.34.

Tufts divers helped the men’s team achieve their victory. They faced no competition in the 11-dive three-meter event and made up the entire top three in the one-meter. First-year Jay Wilkinson scored 566.93 across 11 dives to win the one-meter event.

The layout of the Zesiger Center enabled swimming and diving events to happen concurrently, a rare opportunity for the Jumbos.

“One of the highlights of the meet on Saturday was getting to compete alongside our divers at MIT. We don't get to compete with our divers at home meets because we don't have a full diving facility,” Shelburne wrote. “It's the last time all of our athletes will compete together this season and I thought it was really special to finish the meet all in the same place.”

While the competition was close, the men’s team showed consistent high performances throughout. Junior Ethan Schreier won the 200 butterfly in 1:49.69. Junior Soeren Euvrard won the 50 freestyle with a time of 20.72, while teammate LaBarge was close behind in 20.73 to take second. Sikka, Schreier and Euvrard also took the top three spots in the 100 butterfly to maintain a lead over MIT late in the meet.

The women’s team did not fare as well against MIT, losing 208–92. Bright spots of their night included wins from McCarty in the 500 freestyle and Wheeler in the 100 breaststroke. Many Tufts swimmers still put up points in second-place finishes. In the 1000 freestyle, Shelburne rallied to place second; her time of 10:25.93 was over 15 seconds faster than her performance the day before. Harrison was very strong in the butterfly events, placing second in both the 200 and 100 butterfly with times of 2:06.26 and 56.52 respectively.

The team is already looking ahead to their next meet on Friday, where they will compete against Hamilton College. The Friday meet, the last home competition for the Jumbos, begins at 4 p.m. and will also include Senior Night celebrations.