WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- With their sights on the approaching 2017-2018 season, Williams women's swimming and diving is ready to take on the competition together. The team of thirty women, including a talented class of ten freshmen, has already started the preparation for success with two and a half weeks of practice under their belts. In terms of the coaching staff, head coach Steve Kuster and diving coach Kit Koch remain as staples to the program. Assistant coaches Dave Dow and Dave Polen, both of who have been with the Ephs for a number of years, are sure to be invaluable assets on deck as well.
Coming off last year's NESCAC championship win, and a second place finish at the NCAA meet, there is a lot of work ahead for these women if they wish to build upon their legacy.
Last year, the team said goodbye at graduation to a group of eight talented women, including captains Olivia Clark, Lauren Jones, and Ariana Ross. Each of these women left a mark on the program the last four years; Jones and Clark were reliable relay contributors at the NESCAC and NCAA level, and Ross represented the Eph women on the 1-meter and 3-meter boards.
The loss of this class will be felt strongly across a spread of events, including distance freestyle, individual medley, and strokes. Head coach Steve Kuster noted on the legacy that the Class of 2017 left behind: "While the loss of a talented Class of 2017 will certainly be felt, I am excited by the addition of the first years and ready to see the returners step up."
This Class of 2017 leaves behind a group of powerful, diversely talented women, who are determined to build upon the strong legacy of the team.
This team is led by captains Emma Waddell '18 and Maddie Downs '18, who have both had a significant impact on the team's success in their past three years at Williams. Waddell has consistently dominated in sprint fly, freestyle, and individual medley events at the NESCAC and national level, and Downs has excelled in fly events as well.
In addition to this dynamic duo, the breadth of talent across the board, paired with hard work that can be expected from this team gives the Ephs a great outlook for success this season. Kuster commented on the team's current position: "I'm looking forward to seeing how this team develops. This might be the deepest team we've had in years in terms of across the board ability. There is no way of knowing what that translates into in terms of end of season placing and results, but I would say it is a good sign in general."
Returning high point scorers include sophomores Veronica Wolff and Caroline White, who hope to continue their dominance in the 200-yd butterfly and breaststroke events respectively. Alison McNamara '19 will be counted on to perform in the 1650-yd freestyle and 500-yd freestyle, having placed top eight in both events at the NCAA championship last year. Additionally, the Ephs are set to be a relay force to be reckoned with given the returns of key players such as Delaney Smith '18, Maia Hare '19, Emma Waddell '18, and Caroline White '20.
As mentioned previously, on the diving boards, the team will miss the presence of the graduated Ariana Ross, who consistently excelled in both the 1-meter and 3-meter events at the NESCAC and national level. Returning Molly Harrington '18, and fresh talent Gabby Mercier '21 will be tasked with balancing her loss.
The Ephs officially begin their competitive season this weekend with a double-meet lineup versus Springfield College and Union College. These duel meets will mark the start of the long road toward NESCACs and NCAAs, with the Eph women prepared to take advantage of every opportunity for success along the way. As Kuster notes, the results of their season will be largely dependent on unwavering individual and collective effort: "In addition to getting consistent good quality work done, success will largely be determined by whether this group can stay healthy and how well they decide to come together as a group. "
The meet against Springfield College will take place November 17, 2017 at Springfield, 6 PM EST. The meet against Union will be held the following day, November 18, 1 PM EST, at the Ephs' Samuelson-Muir pool.