MIDDLEBURY, VT -- After the Saturday edition of the 2016 NESCAC Championship Williams has widened its lead over the competition. Williams has 1466 points while Amherst has 976 and Bates stands at 944.5. Six out of the evening's eight events were won by a Williams swimmer, and several more names were etched into the record books.
At the beginning of the session the seniors from all 11 NESCAC schools were honored for their years representing their colleges and the conference. The six seniors from Williams, already part of two NESCAC championship teams, took part: Katie Bennett, Anna Epstein, Paige Haller, Maddy Holker, Breanna Nguyen and Faye Sultan.
The 200 Medley Relay team of Katie Bennett, Olivia Clark, Emma Waddell and Maia Hare started off the action with a thrilling duel against Amherst. Bennett split almost a second faster than the rest of the field in the backstroke leg. Olivia Clark split a fast 29.85, but lost ground to Hyde of Amherst. Then Emma Waddell dove in to try and give first year anchor Maia Hare a chance to win the race. Waddell's split of 23.33 gave Williams the lead, and Hare split a 23.44 to hold off a charging Amherst.
In the 1000 Freestyle underclassmen Alison McNamara and Emma Sawkins got the job done for Williams. McNamara won the event, the first NESCAC title of her young career, and broke Caroline Wilson's pool record too. McNamara negative split the race, her final 500 yards were four seconds faster than her first 500 yards. Sawkins swam a personal best time to grab third place and continue her successes from last year's NESCACs in this event.
Megan Pierce set a pool and meet record in the 400 IM with a 4:17.47. It was her personal best and she finished seven seconds ahead of the field. Pierce was one of three Ephs in the championship final; first year Franny Dean improved her time and place from the morning to finish sixth, and senior Paige Haller finished seventh.
The 100 Butterfly also saw three Ephs in the championship final. Waddell continued her impressive butterfly performances this weekend to win the event and set a new pool and meet record. Maia Hare finished third overall and was followed by sophomore Maddie Downs. All three of these Ephs improved upon their preliminary times in finals and achieved NCAA B standards.
In the consolation final of the same event Williams took the top three spots. First year Bryanna Lee improved her time and won the heat, junior Sofie Pietrantonio took second in the heat and senior Anna Epstein was third in the heat. Also competing in the preconsolation final was senior Maddy Holker, totaling to seven point-scoring swimmers in the event.
In the 200 Freestyle Lauren Jones finished third overall and got a NCAA B cut. Delaney Smith and Erin Kennedy finished 12th and 13th overall, respectively.
Two Ephs competed in the championship final of the 100 breaststroke. Senior Breanna Nguyen finished fourth and junior Olivia Clark took eighth. Hyde of Amherst won the event in 1:00.99.
Then in the 100 backstroke Williams dominated the championship final. Five of the eight competitors in the top heat and the top three places were all Williams swimmers. Olivia Jackson won the event, followed closely by Katie Bennett and Katie Priest who rounded out the 1-2-3 sweep. Erica Myers and Maddie Downs finished sixth and eighth, respectively.
The last event of the night was the 800 Freestyle Relay. Williams again won the event, but with less drama than the 200 Medley Relay from earlier in the session. Megan Pierce led off with a 1:51.90 and handed off to Lauren Jones. Jones split a 1:51.88, then Nguyen clocked a 1:52.14 and Waddell brought it home in 1:51.08. The second place team from Connecticut College was over four seconds behind the Williams team.
With only one day left in the Championships, Williams has not slowed its pace and more than doubled their margin from day one. Swimmers from all class years have been swimming fast and winning big for Williams. They will look to take this total team effort tomorrow and transform it into a trophy they can take home with them.