Women's Swim Team Headed To NESCAC's

February 24, 2008

Middlebury will take part inthe 2008 NESCAC Women's Swimming and Diving Championship this weekend. The three-day event begins on Friday, Feb. 22 at Wesleyan with preliminary heats in the morning and championship races in the evening.

Williams won last year's NESCAC crown at home by the slimmest margin in championship history - only 156.5 points - over rival Amherst. The Jeffs may be poised to unseat the defending champ Ephs at this weekend's meet thanks in part to the efforts of senior Brittany Sasser (Belmont, Mass.). Sasser, who earned Swimmer of the Meet honors for the first time in her career at the 2007 championship, has won the 100-yard and 200-yard Backstroke races at every championship in which she has participated. Sasser also owns the championship records for all Backstroke events, and currently holds the top time in the nation in both the 100 and 200. Classmate Lisa Pritchard (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) will also look to earn valuable points for Amherst in the Backstroke, after winning the 50-yard race at last February's championship and placing second to Sasser in the 100. Challengers to the Jeffs' dominance in the Backstroke include juniors Kelsey Potdevin (Juneau, Alaska) from Colby and Catherine Suppan (Burlington, Vt.) from Middlebury. Potdevin placed second to Pritchard in the 50 for the second year in a row last winter, while Suppan was third behind Amherst's one-two finish in the 100.

The short-distance Freestyle events will feature a plethora of young talent this weekend. Making their first NESCAC championship appearances in the 50-yard and 100-yard Freestyle races will be rookies Kendra Stern (Albuquereque, N.M.) of Amherst, Allison Palmer (Stonington, Conn.) of Bowdoin, Emily McDonald (Glenwood Springs, Colo.) of Middlebury, and Maureen O'Neill (Cherry Hill, N.J.) of Tufts. Kendra, the sister of senior teammate Meaghan Stern, holds the top time in the conference in every Freestyle event she has raced in this season and will be one of many to challenge Meaghan's two-time defense of the 200-yard and 500-yard titles. In the long-distance Freestyle, Middlebury senior Sara Cowie (North Palm Beach, Fla.) returns for her final NESCAC championship looking to complete a remarkable four-year run. Cowie not only holds the NESCAC meet record in both the 1,000-yard and 1,650-yard Freestyle events but also has won both races at each NESCAC championship over the last three years. Cowie will be tested by sophomore teammate Katie Soja (Sudbury, Mass.) and by the Williams tandem of junior Mary Wilson Molen (Birmingham, Ala.) and first year Ryan McChesney (Atlanta, Ga.). Soja finished second in last year's 1,000 and Molen was second in the 1,650.

Colby Senior Kelly Norsworthy (West Hartford, Conn.) hopes to repeat her 2007 championship performance for the Mules this weekend by once again winning all three Breaststroke events. During last year's championship at Williams, Norsworthy set a pool record in the 50-yard event with a time of 29.55. Wesleyan senior Amanda Shapiro (Miller Place, N.Y.) and Williams junior Courtney Asher (Berwyn, Pa.) both placed in the top four during last year's 50-yard and 100-yard Breaststroke events, with Shapiro finishing third in the 50 and second in the 100. Part of Williams 2007 championship success came in the 200, as five out of eight swimmers in the championship final were Ephs.

Holding the best times in the Butterfly in the conference and among the national leaders this winter, Middlebury senior Marika Ross (Shorewood, Wis.) heads into the championship as the two-time winner in all three Butterfly events. Ross already has the NESCAC meet record in both the 100 and 200, setting the standard in the 200-yard Butterfly during last year's championship.

In diving, Tufts senior Kendall Swett (Akron, Ohio) will look to repeat as the champion in both the 1-meter and 3-meter diving events. Swett set a NESCAC championship record for the 1-meter event last year with a preliminary round score of 486.80, and her 3-meter score in the finals was just 0.60 points shy of tying the championship record of 482.85 set in 2002. Challengers to Swett's title defenses include Bates' junior Kelsey Lamdin (Brunswick, Maine), Middlebury senior Alanna Hanson (Golden Bridge, N.Y.), and Tufts sophomore Lindsay Gardal (Wayland, Mass.). All three divers finished within the top four behind Swett's championship performances in both the 1-meter and 3-meter.

The relay events could play a major factor in deciding the NESCAC championship. Amherst took four of the five championship relays, missing out on a perfect 5-for-5 after finishing second in the 200-yard Freestyle Relay by 0.14 seconds to Middlebury. The Jeffs and the Panthers were among the top three teams in all five relay events, while Williams placed in the top three in four of five relays.

Competition will get underway each day with preliminary heats at 10:00 a.m. Finals will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, 5:50 p.m. Saturday, and 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $6 per session or $10 for a day pass for adults and $1 per session for children and students. Doors will open two hours prior to the heats and finals.

-- courtesy NESCAC --