MIDDLEBURY, VT--- Williams women's swimming and diving kicked off their championship season with great success this weekend at the 2018 Middlebury Invitational hosted by the Middlebury College Panthers. A number of teams from across the region competed at the invite, which was unscored. With timed-finals sessions Friday evening, Saturday morning, and Saturday evening, every race and dive was all or nothing. Luckily, the Ephs went all in, eager to show off what the group of women is fully capable of for the first time.
Friday evening's session began with the 200-yd freestyle relay, in which the Williams "A" team of Dana Chung '19, Maia Hare '19, Ella Smit '21, and Delaney Smith '18 took first place. With a cumulative time of 1:37.84, the Ephs beat-out Tufts by over 2 seconds. The Williams women later took first in the 400-yd medley relay. The "A" team of Gwyneth Maloy '21, Caroline White '20, Veronica Wolff '20, and Dana Chung '19 cleared the field by over six seconds for a time of 3:58.00.
The 200-yd individual medley marked the first individual event of the weekend. The Williams women made a dramatic impression by taking places first through sixth, led by Molly Craig '21 at 2:07.06. The Ephs also put up solid performances in the 1000-yd and 1650-yd freestyles to close out the evening session on a high note.
Saturday morning's session started with the 200-yd medley relay, in which the Eph women again took first place. The "A" team of consisted of Veronica Wolff '20, Caroline White '20, Laura Westphal '21, and Maddie Wessell '20, and finished with a time of 1:49.70.
The morning hosted a number of notable individual swims across a diverse set of events. In the 100-yd butterfly, the Williams women took 1-2-3 in a tight pack. Molly Craig '21 led the photo finish with a time of 58.64, followed by Maia Hare '19 (58.86) and Laura Westphal '21 (58.91) for second and third respectively. Just following, the Ephs touched first through fourth in the 200-yd freestyle, with another close call between first and second. Alison McNamara '19 just in inched out Courtney Brown '21, with times of 1:57.45 and 1:57.71 respectively.
Going into the third session, one would expect a team to show signs of slowing down, but the Ephs continued to bring it throughout the evening on Saturday. In the first event, the 500-yd freestyle, Caroline White '20 touched first with a time of 5:05.27, followed by Courtney Brown '21 for second at 5:05.65. Other standout wins include those of Madeleine Deardorff '20 in the 200-yd breastroke (2:27.91) and Veronica Wolff '20 in the 200-yd butterfly. The evening and weekend concluded with the 400-yd freestyle relay, a favorite for the Ephs. The women again lived up to expectations with a first place finish and time of 3:38.23 posted by the "A" team of Maddie Wessell '20, Delaney Smith '18, Ella Smit '21, and Emma Waddell '18.
Throughout the invite, Gabby Mercier '21 represented the Eph women on the 1-meter and 3-meter boards. Mercier finished first in the 1-meter competition on Friday with an impressive score of 437.50, and second on the 3-meter Saturday afternoon. With impressive performances throughout the regular season as well, she will certainly be one to watch in the coming weeks.
The Williams women made it clear this weekend that they can bring the energy and the heat unlike any other group, especially when it comes to championship season. On the team's performance, Eph head coach Steven Kuster commented that he sees the weekend as a good sign of what's to come: "We had a pretty wide range of swims this weekend, but it was good to have one last chance to race before NESCACs. I know the women are all ready for taper and will be fired up to host in a week and a half. With the conclusion of the Middlebury Invitational, 26 Eph women now focus their attention on the NESCAC Championships, which are set to take place the weekend of February 16th-18th.
The NESCAC Championship Meet, hosted by Williams Feb. 16-18, will be held in the Ephs' Samuelson-Muir Pool and will transpire over three days of trials and finals, totaling in six sessions. The first session, on the 16th, will begin at 10 am EST.