Women’s swimming and diving out-duel Coast Guard and Middlebury in opening weekend sweep

Senior Kelsey Gallagher swims backstroke during a meet against MIT on Jan. 15. (Courtesy Dave DeCortin)

The Tufts women’s swimming and diving team dueled in back to back dual meets the weekend of Nov. 18–19, defeating both the Coast Guard Academy and Middlebury. Due to the tricky dual meet format, many swimmers were tasked with swimming multiple events each day, but thanks to the strength of the Jumbos, they persevered regardless.

The winning weekend was kicked off with a victory over Coast Guard, hosted in tandem with a meet with the men’s team. The Jumbos swam their way to a 180.5–109.5 triumph over the academy, marking a notch in the win column from the start while the Coast Guard Bears fell to an overall record of 1–3.

The Jumbos started off the meet by placing teams first and second in the 400-yard medley relay, gaining a solid 15 points on the board overall from the race. This was followed by second-place finishes in the 1000- and 200-yard freestyles before the team rattled off a stunning nine consecutive victories, starting in the 100-yard backstroke and concluding with senior tri-captain Anna Kimura in the 500-yard freestyle (including first-year Amber Chong in the one meter diving).

Kimura also placed first in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:28.76, followed by first-year Lily Kurtz just .01 seconds behind (2:28.77). Kurtz had previously won the 100-yard breaststroke earlier and was on her third event of the day, perhaps costing her the 200-yard race.

“I was definitely surprised when I saw the scoreboard,” Kimura told the Daily in an email. “The fact that we were so close makes me just look more forward to competing with my teammates.”

It seems that Kimura expects Kurtz to continue to be a competitive opponent.

First-year Jackie Crater placed first in the 100-yard backstroke ahead of sophomore Grace Goetcheus and senior Kelsey Gallagher, capping a clean points sweep. Crater, Goetcheus and Gallagher also finished in the same order in the 200-yard backstroke.

The Coast Guard took the majority of the points in the 100-yard butterfly. Nonetheless, junior standout Colleen Doolan, fresh off an appearance at last year’s nationals, captured the 200-yard butterfly by a stunning six seconds in addition to racing in two other relays, all on top winning the 100-yard freestyle on the same day.

Continuing the crawl into the freestyle front, senior tri-captain Jess Lee edged out first-year Sasha Fong in the 50 yard freestyle. It was yet another close race, this time one with the victor prevailing by .02 seconds (25.75 versus 25.77). First-year Sook-Hee Evans was part of a trio of first-years who swept the points in the 500-yard freestyle, continuing the impressive showing by first-years. Evans also placed second in the 1000-yard freestyle just behind Coast Guard first-year Emily Benson in a competitive showing.

“I was really happy with the way our first dual meets went this season,” Evans said.

The latter of the two meets was on Sunday, where the Jumbos travelled up to Middlebury to face the Panthers; they were victorious again (155–134). Here, Evans kept up her strong form, placing first in the 500-yard freestyle in addition to a victory in the 1000-yard freestyle, ahead of other first-years Rhys Empey and Emma Seymour.

In breaststroke, Tufts sophomore Katherine Brown took both the 50- and 100-yard iterations, edging Kimura who finished only 14 hundredths of a second behind.

The Tufts first-years continued racking up victories on Sunday, including Abby Claus, taking the 100-yard backstroke. Fellow first-year Sasha Fong might be part butterfly, taking both the 50- and 100-yard events, edging out Claus in the latter.

Doolan, not to be forgotten, was victorious in 200-yard freestyle and was barely edged with a time of 54.45 in the 100-yard freestyle, finishing behind Middlebury sophomore Frances Vandermeer who came in at 53.79.

The aforementioned tri-captain Kimura competed in four events on the day, including a second place finish in the 100-yard breastsroke (only behind Brown) for a total of eight events in one weekend. Despite the difficult-seeming circumstances, she remained upbeat in reflection.

“I think overall for both meets our team did really well,” Kimura said. “We had a ton of great swims throughout and I think it definitely got people excited to finish out the semester strong.”

The team is set to finish its semester strong on Dec. 1 when they travel to Cambridge for the three-day MIT Invitational, the first of two meets remaining in the first semester of the tiring Tufts 2017–18 calendar. Again, this potential fatigue does not seem to deter the swimmers.

“I think the team has a lot of confidence moving forward,” Evans said, “we are really excited to swim at MIT this weekend!”

Despite the tricky scheduling, this team seems to have the endurance to pull through.