HADLEY, Mass. - The four-time defending NESCAC Champion Williams women's swimming and diving team aims to capture its 17th overall conference title when the 2018 NESCAC Women's Swimming and Diving Championships begin on Friday, February 16, with preliminary heats in the morning followed by championship races in the evening. This year's three-day championship will take place at Samuelson-Muir Pool on the campus of Williams College.
Competition begins each day with preliminary heats at 10 a.m. Finals are scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday, 5:50 p.m. on Saturday, and 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $8 per session for adults and $3 per session for children and students. Doors will open 90 minutes prior to the preliminaries and finals. No pre-sale tickets will be available, as all tickets will be sold at the door. Live webcasts and results from the NESCAC Women's Swimming and Diving Championships will be available throughout the weekend at NESCAC.com.
Williams outdistanced the field with 1,856 points to win its fourth straight NESCAC title in 2017. Amherst (1,367) edged Connecticut College (1,268) to finish second, while Middlebury (1,174) and Bates (1,159) rounded out the top five. Bowdoin placed sixth (994.5) followed by Wesleyan (751) and Tufts (700.5) in seventh and eighth, respectively. Hamilton (388), Colby (284) and Trinity (281) rounded out the final team standings.
Amherst sophomore Ingrid Shu (Montville, N.J.) is the reigning champion in the 50 freestyle, posting a time of 23.63 seconds to win the event as a rookie, but Williams senior Emma Waddell (Bangor, Maine) owns the fastest time this season and sophomores Lily Gribbel (Pleasanton, Calif.) of Connecticut College and Janika Ho (Los Angeles, Calif.) of Bates will vie for the title in 2018. Waddell is the three-time defending champion in the 100 freestyle, but first-year teammate Laura Westphal(Northville, Mich.) owns the top time in the event, while Amherst sophomore Natalie Rumpelt (Albany, N.Y.) could also challenge for the title this year. In the 200 freestyle, Westphal and fellow first-year Eph teammates Gwyenth Maloy (New Haven, Conn.) and Casey Delano (Milton, Mass.) look to land on the podium, as a new champion will be crowned with the graduation of two-time winner Isabel Wyer of Middlebury.
In the distance freestyle events, Westphal owns the top time in two of the three events, the 500 and 1650 freestyle. Williams junior Alison McNamara (Tappan, N.Y.) is the two-time defending champion in the 1,000 freestyle and owns the third-best time of the year in the event, while fellow Ephs' Maloy and Courtney Brown (Sudbury, Mass.) rank 1-2.
The 50 backstroke has had three different champions in the last three years, including Wesleyan sophomore Caroline Murphy(Gardiner, N.Y.) who looks to repeat as the NESCAC Champion. Murphy's competition includes Williams sophomore Caroline Conforti (Slingerlands, N.Y.) and Connecticut College junior Maeve Wilber (New Marlborough, Mass.). A new champion will be crowned in the 100 and 200 backstroke events as Olivia Jackson of Williams, a three-time winner in the 100 and two-time champion in the 200, has graduated. First-year Jackie Crater (Chatham, N.J.) of Tufts leads the competition in the 100, with sophomores Marshall Lowery (Arundel, Maine) of Bowdoin and Frances VanderMeer (Elmira, N.Y.) of Middlebury vying for the top spot on the podium. Crater also owns the top mark in the 200, with Amherst junior Bridgitte Kwong (Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong) and senior Katherine Priest (Westboro, Mass.) of Williams possible contenders for a title.
Each of last year's champions returns to the field in the three breaststroke events. Middlebury sophomore Maya Gomez (Madison, Wis.) won the 50 breaststroke last season, but sophomores Caroline White (Winter Park, Fla.) of Williams and Mary Erb (Readfield, Maine) of Connecticut College, along with Bates senior Logan McGill (Dallas, Texas) have clocked the top three times this season. White is the reigning champion in the 100 and 200 breaststroke and has the top time in each event this year. Erb and Tufts senior Anna Kimura (Bellevue, Wash.) could be a factor in the 100 and add fellow Jumbo and rookie Lily Kurtz (Cheshire, Conn.) to the mix in the 200 race.
Like the breaststroke events, every 2017 champion in the butterfly races returns in 2018. Williams junior Maia Hare (New York, N.Y.) is the defending champion in the 50 butterfly. Her Eph teammate Waddell owns the top time of the year and is followed by Bates' McGill and Tufts rookie Sasha Fong (Santa Rosa, Calif.). Waddell will look to win her fourth straight NESCAC title in the 100 butterfly. She set a NESCAC Championship record to win the 2016 title and owns the top time in the event heading into the 2018 race. Amherst senior Geralyn Lam (Dallas, Texas) and Bates' Ho round out the top three swimmers. In the 200, Williams sophomore Veronica Wolff (McLean, Va.) aims to defend her title and owns the top time of the season. She will be pushed by teammates Westphal and rookie Molly Craig (Mansfield, Pa.).
Craig has established herself as a contender in the 200 and 400 individual medley races. She enters the championship with the top time in each event. Amherst's Kwong has a top-three time in each event, while Williams' Waddell ranks among the top three swimmers in the 200 individual medley and teammate White is among the leaders in the 400 individual medley.
A new champion will emerge in both the 1-meter and 3-meter diving events following the graduation of Williams' Ariana Ross, who captured four straight diving titles on both boards. Another Eph could claim a title as first-year Gabby Mercier (Easthampton, Mass.) owns the top mark in the 1-meter and is third in the 3-meter. Middlebury senior Elissa DeNunzio (Darien, Conn.) and Tufts first-year Amber Chong (Issaguah, Wash.), along with the Bowdoin duo of sophomore Thea Kelsey (Belmont, Mass.) and junior Rebecca Stern (Northfield, Ill.) are among the other contenders for the diving titles. Amherst first-year Lindsey Ruderman (Durham, N.C.) is also a potential contender having the second-highest score on both boards in six dives.
Williams has won every relay race over the past three championships and owns the top times in three of the five relays. Amherst holds the fastest time in the 200 freestyle relay, while Tufts is the top team in the 800 freestyle relay. Williams set new NESCAC Championship records in the 200 freestyle and 200 and 400 medley relay races last season.
Results will be posted on NESCAC.com at the end of each day.
* - NESCAC record
# - NESCAC Meet Record