Jan 24 & 25, 2014
The Ephs of Williams certainly had a weekend filled with fast swimming. On Friday they faced off against the MIT Engineers and came out on top (192-97 for women, 159-137 for men). Less than eighteen hours later, the Ephs were back up on the blocks racing NESCAC competitors Middlebury and again came out victorious (185-108 for women, 197-101 for men).
On the women’s side of things, the meet against MIT showed some promise of what is to come at the end of the year. In true Eph fashion, the women of Williams dominated all but two events over the course of the night. However, it’s some of the times that these women put up in a dual meet that makes for some excitement for the coming conference championships and later, NCAAs.
The Eph team of Katherine Bennett, Breanna Nguyen, Alyssa Levine and Faye Sultan own the thirteenth fastest 200 medley relay time in the nation in DIII so far this year, and they were only a little off that time against MIT, to finish handily two seconds ahead of their opponents in 1:48.00. The 200 freestyle relay at the end was a closer matchup, with MIT’s Lena Yang, Michelle Cunningham, Veronika Jedryka and Christy Rogers just barely outtouching the exhibitioning Ephs for the victory (1:38.32 to 1:38.72). Considering that three of the four Engineers are top 16 in the 50, it’s impressive that the race was so close.
The big distance event of the day was the mile, which Sarah Thompson won easily, finishing a little under 17 seconds ahead of teammate Megan Pierce. Their next closest competition was more than 40 seconds behind them. Thompson’s 17:03.60 places her sixth so far this year in the fastest miles swum. Pierce’s 17:20.00 would put her fourteenth, but she had already put up a 17:17.25 last weekend to make her eleventh in the mile standings. Keep in mind – these women are swimming top sixteen times while wearing dual meet suits. Later, Thompson returned to the water to claim the victory in the 500 freestyle, putting up a 5:01.50 to do so. That’s her best time so far this season by nearly two seconds. She finished exactly 11 seconds ahead of teammate Lauren Jones (5:12.50). Thompson’s time in the 500 ranks her 13th in DIII this year.
Thompson wasn’t the only one swimming faster than she has so far this year. Nguyen – part of that victorious 200 medley relay – posted a 1:07.35 – the fastest she’s been this season by .04 – to win the 100 breaststroke. Kristen Finney of MIT was second (1:08.07) and Olivia Clark of Williams was third (1:08.33).
The 200 butterfly following the breaststroke must have been a joy to watch. The Ephs went 1-2-3 led by freshman Pierce who had just finished runner up to Thompson in the mile. Pierce has already shown herself to be an endurance swimmer well worth watching, something like a combination Caroline Wilson-Logan Todhunter. She cruised to victory, more than four seconds ahead of classmate Sofie Pietrantonio (2:10.70) and Paige Haller (2:10.81). Pierce’s 2:06.48 would rank her just outside the top sixteen this year; however, her season best of 2:05.09 puts her at eighth in the DIII pool.
Later, Pierce also put her IM talents on display in the 400 IM, taking first with a season best time of 4:28.27. Her previous best this year was a 4:29.14. She is now currently tied for seventh fastest in DIII this year with Megan Beach of Emory.
The individual event that went to MIT was the 50 freestyle, which Yang – tied for 15th nationally in DIII at 23.88 this year – claimed in 24.27, just a tenth ahead of the Ephs’ Sultan (24.37). Cunningham (MIT) was third in 25.33.
Michelle Higgins won one of the diving events, scoring 293.10 to take the 1 meter event, while McKenzie Murdoch scored 308.18 to claim 3 meter. Murdoch was disqualified on one meter.
The Williams’ men won a hard fought victory against MIT. The Eph men took the lead from the start and never looked back. The 200 medley relay, which began the night was the closest and most exciting, in which the Ephs outtouched the Engineers by a mere .02 for the victory. The team of Ben Lin, Jake Tamposi, Thad Ricotta, and Grant Johnson finished in 1:33.20 over the Engineers’ 1:33.22. Tamposi posted an impressive breaststroke split of 25.49 on the relay – the fastest in the field. The 200 freestyle relay at the end went to MIT’s team of Austin Fatham, Chiu Brendon, Daryl Neubieser and Remy Mock in 1:24.97. Williams touched second in 1:25.24.
Williams’ men took first in the mile (Christian Gronbeck – 16:09.40), 200 freestyle (Grant Johnson – 1:44.81) and 100 backstroke (Lin – 51.49) before MIT turned the tide and began to capture event titles. The next three events went to MIT leading up to the diving break, leaving the two teams a bare three points apart.
MIT’s Michael Liao won the 100 breaststroke (57.39), Luke Schlueter won the 200 butterfly (1:52.97) and Fathman claimed the 50 freestyle (21.18) before the diving events began. MIT had two divers to Williams’ one on three meter, but the Eph’s Rohan Bhatt was victorious (316.43) and joined by a teammate for one meter. Bhatt’s score of 308.78 was 39 points ahead of the next best diver on one meter. Danil Tyulmankov (MIT) was second on both boards, scoring 303.90 on 3 meter and 269.78 on three meter.
In another back and forth, Fatham (MIT) took the 100 freestyle (46.93) and Lin (Williams) came back to take the 200 backstroke (1:53.03), just a couple tenths off his season best, and two seconds ahead of second place Sean Corcoran of MIT (1:55.51).
Gronbeck added a second event win in the 500 freestyle (4:41.54), a little over his season best of 4:39.69, but still fast enough to top the next fastest swimmer by five seconds! Lin also added another event win to his tally in the 100 butterfly, beating out Corcoran again 50.63 to 51.08, respectively. Then, in what might have been the most exciting individual event of the day, the 400 IM came up with a serious race between Williams’ Tim Lattimer against MIT’s Alexander Lednev. At the halfway mark, Lednev was two seconds ahead of Lattimer, but with an extraordinary breaststroke leg (1:08.32 to 1:12.07) Lattimer put himself out ahead and hung on for the win, 4:06.26 to 4:06.98.
The next day, getting up to race again, the Williams Ephs swam some serious sprint events. The day began with a longer relay – 400 medley – and finished with the 200 freestyle, but included in the event format were 50s of strokes, the 100 IM and the 1000 instead of the mile.
Williams swam a different season best in opening their 400 medley relay on this second day of competition. Bennett, Nguyen, Pierce and Thompson combined to post a 3:58.72 for victory, finishing three seconds ahead of Middlebury’s A team (4:01.04).
The day after the grueling mile, neither Thompson nor Pierce elected to swim the 1000, instead giving the event over to teammate Jones who claimed the event easily in 10:34.73, about 25 seconds ahead of second place finisher Cori West of Middlebury (10:59.70). This was Jones’ season debut of the event.
The 50s of strokes are fun to watch, if only to get an idea of what an aggregate relay might look like. Bennett posted a 27.73 to win the 50 backstroke, finishing the individual race faster than her lead off 50 backstroke in the 200 medley relay the night before (27.81). Middlebury’s Jamie Hillas posted the only sub 30 finish on the 50 breaststroke, winning by two seconds with a 29.86 – which proved an indication of things to come as she also won the 100 breast with a 1:05.00, four and a half seconds ahead of second place.
Thompson, who proved she’s a distance queen the night before, turned the tables and competed in the 50 freestyle on Saturday. She took the crown in 25.19, followed by teammate Pierce who was second in a 25.24.
Divers Higgins and Murdoch repeated their victories on the boards. Higgins’ 1 meter win came with a higher score than the previous night – 269.33 for the win. Murdoch also improved on three meter, posting a 309.68 to win.
Proving her versatility over all distances, Pierce took time out from the endurance required for a 400 IM to turn in a winning effort in the 100 IM, posting a 1:01.35 to barely edge out teammate Nguyen (1:01.41).
Other in season bests went to Olivia Clark who won the 500 (5:17.45) and Sultan’s 200 freestyle (1:57.01). The meet wrapped up with a tight race in the 200 freestyle relay, where the Middlebury team beat Williams. The squad of Hillas, Morgan Burke, Lydia Carpenter and Ann Carpenter beat the Ephs to the wall, finishing at 1:40.38 to 1:43.89.
For the men, the meet against Middlebury afforded some more opportunities to swim fast while tired. The Ephs began the meet with a victory in the 400 medley relay and never looked back. The quartet of Nathaniel Boley, Lattimer, Lin and Johnson combined to post a 3:31.58 to beat the Panthers by nearly six seconds.
The 1000 freestyle went to Middlebury’s Michael McGean, who completed the event in 10:03.24 in a race that was pretty tight throughout the middle with Lattimer (10:07.43). Williams’ nationally ranked Gronbeck (who won the mile the night before) swam the much shorter 200 freestyle instead on Saturday, taking the victory in a 1:45.32, just a little off his season best. Gronbeck led a 1-4 sweep of the event.
In the shorter 50s of strokes, Lin – who is currently ranked as the 15th fastest 100 backstroker in the nation – turned in a 23.44 on the 50 backstroke, to better his lead off leg of the 200 medley from the night before (23.58).
Bhatt turned in another pair of solid efforts on the boards, bettering his score from the prvious night on three meter by posting a 328.73. On one meter, he scored 303.03.
Williams is perhaps unique in having pool and team records for events that are not contested in Championship meets. However, unique or no, after a solid meet, Lin posted a 52.46 in the 100 IM to break both pool and college records. The collegiate record was set by Paul Dyrkacz in 2012.
Season best times went to Ricotta who won the 500 (4:44.55) and Tamposi who posted a 26.47 on the 50 breaststroke. That time was a little slower than his 25.4 the night before, but as it was a flat start and not a relay exchange at least a little time is accounted for.
The Ephs went out strong, cruising to victory and going 1-2 on the final relay of the night. The team of Alex McCarter, Ricotta, Nels Snyder and Chris Weihs were first in 1:28.39.
The Ephs seniors have competed at their final home meet of the season. The next time they are in the water will be January 31 at Middlebury for the Middlebury Invitational.