WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The NESCAC Women's Championships got underway today at the home Samuelson-Muir pool. The Ephwomen got off to a blazing start, taking an early meet lead with a score of 687 to Amherst's 617.
The session began with the 200 yard freestyle relay, in which the Ephs 'A' squad of Delaney Smith '18, Rollie Grinder '21, Laura Westphal '21, and Emma Waddell '18 touched first in a time of 1:33.09, breaking the old NESCAC meet and pool records. That time ranks them fifth in the nation thus far this year and featured sub-23 seconds splits for both Waddell and Westphal.
The first individual event of the sprint-heavy day one was the 50 yard breaststroke. The only Eph in the championship heat was Caroline White '20, who placed fourth in a time of 29.67.
The second individual event, the 50 yard butterfly, was another splash-and-dash. This time there were two Williams representatives in the championship heat. Rollie Grinder '21 took home a third place finish in her first individual collegiate debut, finishing in a time of 25.46. Senior Captain Maddie Downs '18 touched the wall in a time of 25.96 that was good for eighth. Maia Hare '19 also posted a blazing time of 25.29 to win the Consolation Final, followed closely by her teammate Erin Kennedy '19.
The Ephs demonstrated their middle distance depth in the longest event of the night, the 500 freestyle. In the Pre-Consolation Final Courtney Brown '21 got her hand on the wall second in a new personal best time of 5:03.12 and a tenth place finish overall. Kristina Barry '19, whose time of 5:08.80 was good for fourteenth, followed her. In the Championship heat Williams' four swimmers swept the event. Coming in first was Laura Westphal in a time of 4:52.09, which was good for third in the nation; second was Ali McNamara '19 in 4:55.98; third was Casey Delano '21 in 4:59.84; wrapping up the sweep was Gwyneth Maloy in a time of 5:01.41.
The sprint events continued with the 50 yard backstroke. Caroline Conforti was the sole representative for the Ephs and took home a fourth place finish with a time of 26.33.
Next the Ephs demonstrated their versatility in the 200 yard individual medley. Madeleine Deardorff '20 won the Consolation Final in a new personal best time of 2:07.12, good for a ninth place finish. In the Championship heat the Ephs packed an impressive 1-2 punch. First year Molly Craig took home a win in her first ever NESCAC individual final. Her time of 2:03.57 was not only the sixth fastest time in the nation, but also broke the pool record of 2:03.71 held by Sara Daher of Bates. Following her closely into the wall was sophomore Veronica Wolff in a time of 2:05.09.
The final sprint event of the evening was the 50 yard freestyle. In the Pre-Consolation Final Anna Neufeld '18 touched in a new personal best time of 24.77. Maddie Wessell '20 and Dana Chung '19 represented the Ephs in the Consolation Final. Wessell touched fourth in a time of 24.44 and Chung followed her closely behind in fifth with a time of 24.47. Another three Williams women then contested the Championship heat. Senior Captain Emma Waddell took down the pool and NESCAC meet records, touching first in a time of 22.98. Delaney Smith finished fourth in a time of 23.75, a new personal best. Maia Hare rounded out the event for the Ephs, finishing eighth in 24.24.
First year diver Gabby Mercier made her NESCAC debut on the one-meter board. Mercier dove to a strong third place finish with a final score of 437.05. Mercier will return to competition on the three-meter board.
The final event of the night was the 400 yard Medley Relay. The Williams 'A' relay of Conforti '20, White '20, Waddell '18, and Westphal '21 closed out the session with a bang. Their final time of 3:45.02 destroyed the former pool record and finished the session on a high note for the Ephs.
Head Coach Steve Kuster said about the first session: "I liked the fact that most everybody improved on either a seed time or placing. Hopefully this evening really helped get us rolling and we'll carry the momentum through tomorrow."
The women began the meet impressively, winning five of the first nine events. Despite this strong showing Amherst College still closely trails the Williams women, meaning that the team will have to keep their foot on the gas to ensure they achieve their ultimate goal of another NESCAC title. The meet will resume Saturday at 10:00 AM EST for preliminaries of the second session.