WILLIAMSTOWN, MA—Williams women's swimming and diving will look to earn their fourth consecutive, and sixteenth overall conference title with the commencement of the 2017 NESCAC Women's Swimming and Diving Championships this Friday, February 10.
Williams will go into the meet with a senior class that has posted four consecutive undefeated dual-meet seasons. The Eph seniors have been aided by a plethora of reliable upperclassmen alongside a number of new talents. Nonetheless, the Ephs will have to bring everything they have to echo and surpass their previous successes.
The Ephwomen will be challenged by both rookies and seasoned veterans throughout the course of the weekend, and consequently will be expected to light the fire right from the get-go. The meet is set to begin with preliminary heats on Friday at 10 AM EST followed by Championship heats in the evening. The 2017 NESCAC Championship is hosted by Bowdoin College at the Greason Pool.
The Ephwomen won their third consecutive NESCAC title in 2016 with a total of 2,045, far in front of second place Amherst with 1,343 and Bates with 1,317.5. The teams that took fourth through eleventh respectively were Middlebury (1,090.5), Connecticut College (1,013), Bowdoin (959), Tufts (720), Wesleyan (546), Hamilton (470), Colby (402), and Trinity (247).
Emma Waddell '18 goes into the meet as the two time defending champion in the 100-yd freestyle. She will also be defending her title in the 100-yd butterfly, however she goes in with the second fastest time posted this season. In the 200-yd freestyle, Lauren Jones '17 leads the psych sheets, but faces pressure from underclassmen from Amherst and Bowdoin that do not trail far behind.
Megan Pierce '17 is set to be, once again, a key performer in the Ephs' contention for victory. Pierce has the top seed time in the 1650-yd freestyle and 400-yd individual medley, and has championed the medley the past three years. She will also look to earn her fourth victory in the 200-yd butterfly, but will have to contend against teammate Veronica Wolff '20, who is currently seeded first. Fellow distance powerhouse Alison McNamara '19 goes into the meet as the defending champion in the1000-yd freestyle. McNamara is known for breaking through in the second half of her races, and thus is sure to provide a show all the way through to her finish.
Olivia Jackson '17 and Caroline Conforti '20 will look to uphold the Williams backstroke legacy this weekend. Jackson is a favorite for the 100-yd and 200-yd distances, however Conforti will take her shot at both as well, and is the top seed in the 50-yd race. Fellow Williams rookie Caroline White '20 has the top seed times in the 100-yd and 200-yd breaststroke, and has the potential to be a contender in an individual-medley as well.
On the diving boards, Ariana Ross '17 is the two time defending champion and NESCAC Diver of the Year. Ross posted marks of 434.50 points on the 1-meter board and 485.40 on the 3-meter board to win the events last season, and goes in fresh-off having broken the NESCAC record on both boards at the Middlebury Invitational in her most recent competition.
The team relays are sure to be just as exciting to watch. The Williams women go into the meet having won every relay at the past two NESCAC Championships. However, they will face fierce competition in all of them this year, notably the 200-yd freestyle relay, in which the Ephs are seeded second behind Amherst College.
As can be interpreted from the psych sheets, the Ephwomen go in as the favorites in the NESCAC Championship and again as a dominant force. However, as they have learned in the past, fast entry times and a history of success are not enough to win a championship. When asked for his thoughts on the weekend following an emergency early departure due to weather, Head coach Steven Kuster noted, "It's good to have the group off campus and able to just focus on the task at hand. I'm expecting the group to be motivated to see how good a team they can be, and motivate each other." After pausing briefly, Kuster added, "I'm also looking for a better result than the last time 24 Ephwomen traveled to Bowdoin for NESCACs", referencing their upset in 2013. While victory is certainly within sight, the Ephs will have to bring their hunger and passion every time they step on the blocks or the boards in order to realize their goals this weekend.
Preliminary heats will begin at 10 AM EST daily. Finals will commence at 6 PM Friday, 5:50 PM Saturday, and 5:30 PM-EST Sunday. Tickets will only be available at the door, and will be sold for $8 per session for adults and $3 per session for children and students. The doors will open 60 minutes prior to the session's start. Additionally, a live webcast and live results of the meet are being provided.