Middlebury

Women's Swim Team Headed To NESCAC's

February 14, 2012

Wesleyan University will host the 2012 NESCAC Women's Swimming & Diving Championships. The three-day meet begins Friday, Feb. 17 with preliminary heats in the morning and championship races in the evening at the Wesleyan University Natatorium in Middletown, Conn.

Live results from the morning preliminary races and evening finals will be available via the Internet. Wesleyan will also offer a video webcast of the evening finals through their athletics website.

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 $7 per session for adults and $3 per session for children and students with a limit of two tickets per person. Doors will open one hour prior to the heats and finals.

For the second year in a row, Williams amassed over 1,900 points at the championship, as the Ephs' three-day total of 1,923 ranked behind only their record total of 1,954 in 2010. While the distance between first-place Williams and second-place Amherst was the closest since 2007, the Ephs still won by a comfortable margin of 320 points. The key to the Ephs' success over the years has been their depth, which was on display once again last winter. Of the 19 individual events, five different swimmers from Williams claimed a combined seven titles. The Ephs also placed two-or-more individuals in 12 championship finals, including eight title races with three-plus swimmers, and, for the first time since 2003, swept all five relay events.

Although finishing as the runner-up to the rival Ephs is never the goal, the Lord Jeffs still put on an impressive performance in taking second for the third year in a row. Amherst's 1,603 points were the most by a second-place team in the 11-year history of the meet, besting the 1,600.5 the Jeffs accumulated in 2007. Amherst will attempt to maintain their consistent top-three finisher status this year without the services of three-time Swimmer of the Meet Kendra Stern, who graduated last spring. Other teams competing for a spot among the leaders this weekend will be Connecticut College, Middlebury, and Tufts. The Jumbos finished third in 2010 (1,1,92), while the Camels matched their best finish by taking fourth (1,114) for the third time in meet history.

Stern's departure from Amherst means that a first time champion will be crowned in the 100, 200, and 500-yard freestyle events. Over the course of her four years, Stern won all three races every February and walked away with the championship record in each event. Looking to replace Stern atop the podium will be a trio from Williams. Senior Carolyn Geller (Great Neck, N.Y.) is the top returner from last year in the 100 and 200, as she placed second in the 100 and fourth in the 200. Junior Caroline Wilson (West Hartford, Conn.) had the best time during the morning prelims in the 500 and ended up second in the evening finals. Eph first year Sarah Thompson (Evanston, Ill.) heads into her first championship with some of the top times in the conference in all three events.

Friday's 50-yard freestyle should feature a competitive field. Last year, Williams' Geller denied Hamilton senior Megan Gibbons' (Clarks Summit, Pa.) repeat bid by 0.01 seconds. Both swimmers own the best times in the NESCAC in the 50 free entering the championship weekend. Other top returners from last year's 50 include Amherst junior Katie Vincett and the Connecticut College tandem of senior Erika Fernandes (Westport, Mass.) and sophomore Julia Pielock (Deerfield, Mass.).

In the distance freestyle events, the Ephs' Wilson is back for a potential three-peat in the 1,650. Wilson shattered the NESCAC record by nearly 15 seconds during her first meet in 2010, then returned in 2011 and re-wrote the record books once again, shaving over three seconds off her previous performance. The 1,000-yard freestyle crown could go to a first-time participant on Saturday, as three of the top four times in the conference are owned by rookies. Potential competitors include Williams' Thompson, Amherst's Stephanie Ternullo (Tolland, Conn.), and Connecticut College's Esther Mehesz (Wethersfield, Conn.).

Senior Logan Todhunter (Ithaca, N.Y.) of Williams will look to cap her career at the NESCAC championships with another set of butterfly titles. At her first league meet three years ago, Todhunter set a new championship standard in all three butterfly events en route to being named Swimmer of the Meet. She won both the 50- and 100-yard butterfly races for the third year in a row in 2011 and just missed out on a complete sweep, as she claimed second in the 200. Todhunter led the way in a set of stellar performances for the Ephs, as the champs had four individuals in the 100 final and an impressive five in the 200. Other swimmers that could challenge Williams' stranglehold on the fly races include sophomores Allison Merz (Los Angeles, Calif.) of Amherst and Mia Greenwald (Park City, Utah) of Tufts. Merz edged Greenwald for third place in last year's 50, while Greenwald turned the tables in the 100 and took third.

First time participants might make their mark in the breaststroke this weekend. Rookies Courtney Flynn (Somers, Conn.) of Amherst and Jamie Hillas (Woodbridge, Conn.) of Middlebury own some of the best times in the NESCAC, while returning finalists Amanda Moore (Shaker Heights, Ohio) and Catherine Sparks (New Canaan, Conn.) of Bates and the Tufts duo of Ellen Gage (Storrs, Conn.) and Jenny Hu (Oakland, Calif.) will look to challenge for their first NESCAC crown. Amherst sophomore Abby Hahn (New York, N.Y.) is the only returning champion, as she took the 200-yard breaststroke by less than a second over senior Kara Leasure (Los Alamos, N.M.) of Bates to help the Jeffs complete a sweep in the event.

Last year, Hamilton sophomore Maggie Rosenbaum (Alford, Mass.) became the first person to win all three backstroke races at the NESCAC championship since 2001, setting the meet record in the 50-yard event along the way. While Rosenbaum enters the weekend looking to repeat with some of the best times to date, new and old challengers will be among those hoping to take home a title. Amherst junior Emily Swett (Rochester, N.Y.) won the 100 and 200 events in 2010 and finished as the runner-up in the 200 last year, and Middlebury sophomore Andie Tibbetts (Dover, Mass.) earned second in the 50 and 100 along with third in the 200. Sabrina Lee (Palo Alto, Calif.) of Amherst and Teri Faller (North Reading, Mass.) of Bowdoin hope to make their mark in their first appearance.

Williams dominated the individual medley events at last year's championship, taking four of the top five spots in the 200 final and the first four places in the 400. Three of the four from each race return this weekend, led by junior Katherine O'Leary (Montclair, N.J.) and senior Bonnie Patchen (Ithaca, N.Y.). In diving, the Ephs' McKenzie Murdoch (Winnetka, Ill.) is the top returner following a second-place showing on the 1-meter board and a third-place finish in the 3-meter event last year.

--courtesy NESCAC--