MIDDLETOWN, CT-- The first full day of the 2019 Womens' NESCAC Championships kicked off with a bang today at the Wesleyan Natatorium. The Ephwomen hit the pool ready to swim and once again reasserted themselves amidst the upper echelon of Division III swimming. To reclaim their NESCAC title, however, they have another two, hard-fought days of racing ahead of them.
Tonight the Ephs won five of the nine events.
The finals session kicked off with the 200 Yard Freestyle Relay. In the 2nd heat, the 'B' relay of Anna Peterson '22 (24.15), Georgia Panitz '22 (23.96), Rollie Grinder '21 (24.30), and Molly Craig '21 (23.55) took the top time in the consolation final. Craig dove in dead even with Tufts, but blew the opposing anchor out of the water in the closing yards, finishing with the fastest split among 'B' relays. The 'A' relay of Maia Hare '19 (23.87), Dana Chung '19 (23.79), Gwenyth Maloy '21 (23.47), and Laura Westphal '21 (23.06) dove in 2 heats later, ultimately winning the event overall. Hare got the Ephs out fast early and Dana kept the team in it, Maloy unleashed a monster personal-best leg to take the lead, and Westphal used her clean water to bring home the victory. The time currently ranks the women 6th in the nation and should be invited to the NCAA national championships next month.
The first individual event of the night was the 50 yard breaststroke. After sneaking in to the pre-consolation final, placing 24th in prelims, Franny Dean '19 dropped her time from this morning and moved up to 19th. Two heats later, Caroline White '20 flew home, blowing out the field on the back-half of the race, and claiming her first victory of the meet in a time of 29.34.
The 50 Fly was next, boasting an impressive Williams contingent. In the pre-consolation final, Emily Lock '22 posted a 26.76 to take 20th and Dana Chung returned to finish 22nd in 26.81. Erin Kennedy '19 moved up from her 14th place morning swim in the Consolation Final, finishing 11th in 26.00. In the A Final, Anna Peterson touched 6th in 25.43, Rollie Grinder came 8th in 26.20, and Maia Hare returned to take the third consecutive NESCAC title of the night, blowing out her personal best in winning in a pool-record 24.57.
Not to be outdone, the 500 Freestyle featured an incredible 8(!) Ephs, making up ⅓ of the total final swimmers. In the pre-consolation final, Kristina Barry '19 came 23rd in 5:08.02 and Courtney Brown '21 finished 21st in 5:07.54. Casey Delano won the consolation final, knocking three seconds off of her prelims time and touching in 4:59.62. In the A Final, Kerryann Reynolds '22 took 8th in 5:02.74, Gwenyth Maloy came 6th in 5:01.36, Abby Matheny '22 knocked 2 seconds off of her personal best to place 3rd in 4:57, Ali McNamara '19 used an incredible back-half to touch 2nd in 4:56.89, and Laura Westphal completed the sweep, finishing first in 4:53.95.
The sole representative for the Ephwomen in the 50 backstroke was Caroline Conforti '20, who pushed her great underwaters in the 'A' Final, finishing sixth in 26.36.
The 200 IM was next. Gabby Granata '22 knocked a bit off of her best time to win the Consolation Final, touching in 2:07.94. In the 'A' Final, Veronica Wolff '20 finished 7th in 2:07.70, Ellie Sherman '20 knocked an incredible 2 seconds off of her previous best to touch 6th in 2:06.69, and Molly Craig, despite a valiant effort on the anchor leg, finished 2nd in 2:02.69, a time that currently ranks her sixth in the nation.
The final individual swimming event of the night was the 50 freestyle. In the Consolation Final, Georgia Panitz finished 11th in 24.41. In the 'A' Final, Dana Chung moved up a spot to finish 7th in 24.26 and Maia Hare returned from her prior 2 wins to touch 6th in 24.18.
After the 50 freestyle the 1 Meter Diving event got underway, where Williams was represented by Gabby Mercier '21. Gabby improved her finish last year, taking second this year with 451.65, only 10 points behind the winner, with an impressive list of dives.
The final event of the night was the 400 Medley Relay. In the Consolation Final, the 'B' Relay of Conforti (58.12), Molly Craig (1:04.62), Maia Hare (55.83), and Erin Kennedy (52.22) finished first, recording an NCAA B cut. The 'A' relay of Abby Matheny (58.07), Caroline White (1:02.66), Anna Peterson (55.76), and Laura Westphal (50.12) came from behind on a very fast Wesleyan Relay to edge out a victory and earn a likely invite to NCAAs.
Regarding Day Two, Eph head coach Steve Kuster remarked: "The women got off to a good start this morning with some nice efforts. Tonight I thought they showed their championship character with some great racing, as well as a great 1-meter performance."
The women closed out the second finals session in the lead with 781 points, 140 points ahead of second place Tufts (641), and 191 points ahead of third place Amherst (590).