Williams Swims Nation-Leading 800 Free Relay to Open NESCACs

Report contributed by Robert Reiser


  • February 14th-17th, 2019
  • Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut
  • Teams: Amherst, Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, Connecticut College, Hamilton, Middlebury, Trinity, Tufts, Wesleyan, Williams
  • Live Results

The 2019 NESCAC women’s championship got off to a fast start Thursday night with the final of the women’s 800 free relay.  Last year, when this relay was held as the last event on Friday night, only two teams qualified for NCAA’s — this year 7 teams were under what it took to qualify in 2018 and ten of the eleven teams were faster than last year.  With the majority of conference championships still to run NESCAC teams make up 7 of the top 13 times in the event – thanks to the NESCAC’s new format the NCAA cutoff for this event should be significantly faster than last year.

As expected Williams College ran away with the event.  The team of sophomores Casey Delano and Laura Westphal, freshman Abby Matheny, and senior Alison McNamara swam to a pool and meet record of 7:21.97, over six seconds faster than their time from last year and currently the fastest DIII time in the nation based on swims coming into the weekend, just ahead of Kenyon’s 7:22.94 from the midseason Ohio State Invite (though Keyon dropped to a 7:20 this week at NCAC).  The team was led by Westphal who closed in a blazing 1:47.16, fastest in the field by over two seconds, while Delano’s leadoff time of 1:50.50 also likely qualified her individually for the NCAA meet.  Showing off their depth, the Williams B relay time of 7:28.04 was the second fastest overall.

L to R: Delano, McNamara, Matheny, and Westphal of Williams. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Less expected was Tufts’ second place finish in both the A and B relays – while they entered the meet with the fastest seed in the A and second fastest in the B, both were a result of times from the midseason MIT event which in years past they have struggled to replicate.  They were paced by freshman Mary Hufziger, whose 1:49.75 split was the second fastest in the field and only other under 1:50.  While Tufts’ strong results show that they are likely ready to contend for second place, last year’s runner up, Amherst College, was the only team with a slower time than in 2018 .

Editor’s note: remember that the NESCAC scores ‘B’ relays as well, though not for double points.

Other notable results include a swift 3rd place swim by Connecticut College quartet of Andrea Higgins, Maddie Ford, Vaughn Ammon, and Olivia Haskell. Wesleyan placed 6th in the relay and Caroline Murphy split 1:52.61, 4 seconds better than her flat-start best, which may portend strong future results as she moves into her primary sprint free and backstroke events.

Colby’s 9th-place relay was made up entirely of freshman and was over 15 seconds faster than last year’s squad.

Events continue Friday morning at 10:00AM with the prelims of the 50 breast, 50 fly, 500 free, 50 back, 200 IM, and 50 free.

Women – Team Rankings – Through Event 1

  1. Williams College – 90
  2. Tufts – 78
  3. (TIE) Connecticut College/Amherst – 72
  4. Bates College – 66
  5. Bowdoin – 60
  6. Wesleyan – 58
  7. Colby College – 54
  8. Middlebury College – 52
  9. Hamilton College – 46
  10. Trinity College – 42

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Looks like the decision to go with the “tide” and schedule the 800 free relay the night before “Day 1” has paid off for NESCAC. Also believe that 800 Relay last year was Day 2 a/k/a Saturday night not Friday night.

Robert Reiser

Correct re Friday night, my error. Shocking how easy it has been to get obvious details like that wrong when writing these!


Williams also could have been sub 7:19 if they swapped McNamara and Craig. This definitely puts Kuster in a hard spot depending on how National Invites work out.


Kenyon swam a 7:20 on Wednesday at NCACs.

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