This past weekend, Tufts competed at the MIT Invitational. The three-day tournament started on Friday, Dec. 4 and wrapped up on Sunday, Dec. 6. Seven other teams competed at MIT in addition to the host and Tufts: NYU, Wellesley, SUNY New Paltz, LIU Brooklyn, Wheaton and Keene State. Columbia, a Div. I program, ended up the winner of the nine-team tournament with 1,292 points. The Jumbos were only able to muster 181 points and finished ninth at the meet. Tufts had been tied for sixth place after the first day but fell to ninth on Saturday and finished in that position on Sunday.
“Generally, the team is pretty tired at this point in the season, so we use this meet to practice racing many events over a long weekend, which can be grueling,” senior Maddie Golison said.
Nonetheless, there were positive takeaways for the team. Junior Amanda Gottschalk swam well in the 200 breaststroke final on Sunday and posted a time of 2:27.19, good for 10th place at the meet. The time was slightly slower than the 2:25.99 she finished with during the Sunday morning preliminaries.
“I was very happy with my personal swims as well as the entire team’s performance,” Gottschalk said. “Throughout all five sessions, we kept the intensity and excitement high. Many members of the team swam season or lifetime best times, and I know everyone is excited to see how fast we can swim in our upcoming meets.”
Other standout performances included first-year Colleen Doolan cementing herself as the fifth-fastest woman in Tufts history with a 58.99-second finish in the 100-yard butterfly, which was good for 13th place at the MIT meet. The first-year class swam very well as a whole in this meet; first-year Larisa Kokubo posted a time of 55.21 seconds in the 100 freestyle final, ending up in 16th place, and the best Jumbo performance in the 500-meter freestyle came from first-year Jen Lucius, who finished with a 5:26.18 time in that event.
“On the whole, the women’s team did very well, [and] we were the only team at the meet not racing in championship suits,” Golison said. “However, we still were very competitive with the other teams. The team definitely had some stand-out swims; the first-year class has continuously proven themselves as…a force to be reckoned with throughout the early part of the season.”
Additionally, Tufts’ 200-meter medley relay team — consisting of first-year Caroline McCormick, sophomore Anna Kimura, first-year Colleen Doolan and junior Sophia Lin — and the 400 freestyle relay team — consisting of first-year Larisa Kokubo, sophomore Jess Lee, first-year Alexandra Good and Doolan — both finished in the top 20 during the relay finals.
“I think that we did a really great job this weekend,” senior captain Randi Katz said. “It was an invitational with a lot of teams, and we had double sessions on both Saturday and Sunday, so the team did an awesome job of staying positive and energetic throughout the whole weekend. I really felt that everybody put 110 percent into their races and dives, which is so encouraging and helps to keep the energy high.”
Looking ahead, the team has a meet at Wesleyan on Friday, Dec. 11 to close out the semester.
“It’s always a great opportunity to race other NESCAC schools to measure how we stack up against conference teams before the NESCAC championships in February,” Gottschalk said. “Going into the meet Friday, we will be looking to build on our momentum from this weekend and maintain the same high level of excitement and competitive drive.”
The team looks to take the lessons learned from the MIT Invitational to this weekend’s meet at Wesleyan before returning in late January to compete in the NESCAC Championships and NCAA Qualifiers.
“On Jan. 1, the team will be traveling to Puerto Rico, where we will be training intensely for almost two weeks,” Golison said. “It is a great training opportunity for the team because we can specialize and really focus on our respective events whether we are training for distance, individual medley or sprint events. We come back from the training trip in our best shape and use that momentum to carry us through the rest of the dual meet season. I think that compared to the last few years, the team has been performing very well for this part of the season, and we have a lot to be excited about as we approach our championship meets.”