MIDDLETOWN, CT -- This year's edition of the Women's Swimming & Diving NESCAC Championships is being contested at The Wesleyan Natatorium, and the Williams women have arrived in full force to try to bring home a fourteenth conference title on the fifteenth occasion of this NESCAC meet.
A strong team effort in the preliminaries this morning set up Williams to score the points they need in the finals tonight. One highlight from the morning was Olivia Jackson's lead-off backstroke split of 55.49 on the 400 Medley Relay that broke the 100 Backstroke record previously held by current junior Katie Bennett. One gets the feeling that between Bennett and Jackson's combined efforts this record may be lowered again in the near future.
The finals session this evening got under way with the fast 200 Freestyle Relay event. Williams was the top seed in the event, with teams from Middlebury and Bates qualifying with times less than one second behind them. Freshman Emma Waddell led off the Williams relay with a time of 23.37, which from a flat start was good enough to be the fastest split in the field. Behind her senior Catherine Treesh, junior Faye Sultan and senior Sarah Thompson all turned in great performances to hold off the squads from Bates and Middlebury and win the event with a time of 1:34.36. Their collective performance was good enough for a NESCAC Meet record. The Williams 'B' team of Delaney Smith, Tess Vorselen, Lauren Jones and Breanna Nguyen won the consolation heat as well.
The NESCAC is one of the few conferences to still contest 50 yard races in all four strokes. Tonight all four of those 50 yard races took place, beginning with the 50 Breaststroke where Breanna Nguyen started off her individual campaign by taking third place. Senior Molly Prindle begun what will be her last NESCAC meet, taking home seventh in the event. Directly after was the 50 Butterfly. In this event junior Anna Epstein was the only Eph to compete in the finals. Epstein had a very strong showing, grabbing third place overall and stopping the clock in 25.52.
Then in the 500 Freestyle, one of Williams' stronger events, Sarah Thompson defended her title in a fast time of 4:56.40 and was followed closely by Lauren Jones in 4:57.29. Thompson and Jones both showed composure by coming back to beat Stephanie Ternullo of Amherst who had sprinted out to the lead early on. In the consolation final of this event first-years Emma Sawkins and Katie Priest made their NESCAC debuts.
Back on the sprinting side of things, Anna Epstein was back in the pool for the 50 Backstroke. Again she was able to take home an impressive third place finish while being the only Eph to comete in the event.
The 200 IM was a flurry of points for the purple and gold, as Emma Waddell won the event with a time of 2:02.13. Her time was good enough to capture another NESCAC Meet record. Also finishing in the top eight for Williams was sophomore Olivia Jackson and junior Katie Bennett. Then Sofie Pietrantonio won the consolation final for the 200 IM, and not far behind her was junior Paige Haller in twelfth place.
The final individual swimming race of the evening was the 50 Freestyle, and three Ephs were in the top eight. The freshman Logan McGill of Bates would win the event, but Ephs Faye Sultan, Delaney Smith and Catherine Treesh would come in third, tied for fourth, and sixth places, respectively. The freshman Maddie Downs would take tenth place for the Ephs.
Then on the boards for Williams, sophomore Ariana Ross captured her first ever NESCAC title in the 1 meter diving event. Ross was the top seed after this morning's diving, and finished off the event this evening to earn her title. Teammate and senior Michelle Higgins dove very well too, and was not far behind Ross.
The final event of the Day one proceedings was the 400 Medley Relay. The Williams 'A' relay would move up in the standings from second place after the preliminaries to win the event this evening. The team of Olivia Jackson, Breanna Nguyen, Emma Waddell and Sarah Thompson clocked in at a 3:44. Their time was yet another NESCAC Meet record.
So after the conclusion of the first day of competition, Williams has accumulated 686.5 points to put the team in first place. The current second place team comes from Bates College, standing at 541 points. After breaking several NESCAC Meet records and putting in solid performances all around, the Williams ladies are just whetting their appetite for more fast swimming to come. They will be back in the pool tomorrow morning for the second day of competition. And coverage of the meet will continue tomorrow evening after the conclusion of that day's finals.