Swimmers sink team records at NESCAC finals

By Sirianna Santacrose ’15

The stage was set. Or rather, the pool was set to 82 degrees, the ideal temperature for a swimming and diving competition. The weekend of Feb. 15, the women’s swimming & diving team competed against NESCAC competitors in the NESCAC Championship Finals hosted at Bowdoin College’s Leroy Greason Pool. By the end of the weekend, the Continentals placed ninth with 594 team points. The weekend was marked by numerous standout performances and several distinguishing honors for individual athletes.

First-years Sarah Hooper and Lauren Halladay both had strong meets and showed their ability to perform under pressure in the preconsolation finals. Hooper added her name to sixth place on Hamilton’s top times list for her sixth place finish in the 100-yard freestyle preconsolation final with a time of 54.1 seconds. Halladay placed first in the 100 breastroke preconsolation final with a time of 1:07.73, which put her third on Hamilton’s top times list. Hooper and Halladay accompanied Maggie Rosenbaum ’14 and Joanie Burton ’13 in the 200 medley relay, which finished fifth with a time of 1:46.74. Head Coach T.J. Davis was very happy with the women’s relay performances, noting that “they epitomize teamwork in an individual sport.” He also enjoyed watching “a combination of some veterans and some new people” come together to make such a cohesive relay team.

McKenna Kelly ’15, Rosenbaum and Diane Paverman ’13 earned high honors across the board. Paverman received the Four-Year High Point Diver Award, seeing as she has racked up more team points than any other diver at the NESCAC meet over her collegiate career. While Kelly’s 1,650-yard freestyle time of 17:46.1 earned second place on Hamilton’s top times list, another performance of hers stood out even more. In 1995, Liz Schol ’96 held the top time for the 1,000-yard freestyle event. This past weekend, Kelly beat Schol’s time by 3.46 seconds, breaking a record that had not been touched in eighteen years. Kelly is very excited to have broken this long-standing record, saying it is “such an honor [to have] my name… up on the record board.” Coach Davis was equally happy for her, especially having watched her “flirt with that record” in the past.

Rosenbaum was selected as swimmer of the meet for the second consecutive year. She felt honored to be chosen for this distinction again and feels thrilled to have had the chance to compete alongside “so many accomplished athletes.” She set championship meet records in two of her events, including the 50-yard backstroke with a time of 25.8 seconds on Friday. She also continued her winning streak in the backstroke events, all nine of which she has won in the past three years at the NESCAC championship. Her time of 54.7 seconds in the 100 back on Saturday qualified her for the NCAA Division III championships in March, where she will swim the 100 butterfly and the 100 and 200 backstroke. Rosenbaum currently holds two national titles in the 100 back event. Although Coach Davis realizes Maggie is under a lot of pressure to defend her title, he commends her for embracing the opportunity and treating “each season as a single, separate entity. She doesn’t tie assumptions of one year to the next, which is a healthy way for her to manage [the pressure].” The Division III championships will take place at the Conroe ISD Natatorium, a $14 million world-class indoor swimming, diving and Olympic training facility, in Shenandoah, Texas.

The following weekend, it was the men’s chance to show their prowess at the NESCAC Championship finals held at Wesleyan University’s Natatorium. While Williams took home the team title with 1,936.5 points, the Continentals worked hard to keep up a consistent morale and high level of performance that helped them to take eighth place by the end of the weekend.

Many of the athletes earned spots on Hamilton’s top times list and had strong performances. Sophomore Reid Swartz’s time of 1:54.91 in the prelims put him at third place on the team’s top times list. John McBratney ’16 earned fourth place on the program’s top times list for his time of 9:44.68 in the 1,000 freestyle event. Senior Ian Nichols notably took first place in the preconsolation final for the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:00.08. Alex Jones ’16 took second place right behind Nichols in this final with a time of 1:00.36. A 400-yard relay composed of Swartz, McBratney, Taylor Hogenkamp ’13 and Nichols came in fifth place with a time of 3:09.45. Once again, Coach Davis was pleased to see the success that came in this relay due to the combination of “young blood and dependable veteran talent.”

Swartz brought a pleasant surprise to everyone present when he broke the school record for the 50-yard backstroke on the Friday with a time of 23.56 seconds. This was the fastest time in the preliminary heats of the morning. Todd Johnson ’08 has held the previous record of 23.9 seconds for the past five years. Swartz said that he “wasn’t really expecting to break any record… It was a great feeling though and it made me much more confident going into the rest of my races.”

Both men’s and women’s teams had strong performances across the board, showing that their hard work and consistent effort really can produce positive results. Coach Davis is satisfied with each team’s improvement and determination throughout the season. While it will be hard to see seniors like Paverman and Nichols leave the program this year, Coach Davis looks forward to seeing what the younger swimmers will do in the coming seasons.

He noted that “Alex Jones is a young man who can lend his talents in diverse events,” including in the freestyle and butterfly. Davis also looks forward to seeing more from Halladay, whose focus is breastroke but who is also “able to do really amazing things in the 200 breastroke and 50 spring freestyle.”

While the swimmers and divers are the ones performing throughout the season, the guidance and training supplied by their coaches are invaluable. Swartz appreciates that Coach Davis “cares about his swimmers and does a lot to push them and help them drop time in their events.” Kelly is equally appreciative, recognizing that assistant coach Madison Krall worked very well the distance group this year and thinks “the results really speak for themselves.” She also noted that “I think I speak for everyone when I say that we really are so thankful to have such a great coaching staff behind us!” Thanks to strong coaches, captains, and team dynamics, both swimming & diving teams can feel accomplished having finished their respective seasons on a high note.


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