Fresh out of the pool after placing third at the MIT Invitational, Tufts is set to travel to Wesleyan this weekend for another major meet.
The Jumbos competed in Cambridge this past weekend, and the intensity remained high during all three days of the meet. Ultimately, Tufts swam away with an overall team score of 1065, just shy of MIT’s 1195.5 and NYU’s 1269.5 points but ahead of RPI, Wheaton College, Keene State and Wellesley.
Led by head coach Adam Hoyt and associate head coach Nancy Bigelow, the Jumbos returned to campus with their heads held high after taking on some of the toughest challengers the NCAA Div. III has to offer.
“I think last weekend was a very pleasant surprise for many of our women and definitely gave many a great dose of confidence,” Bigelow told the Daily in an email. “We will continue working on developing the mindset of belief and confidence—that great things will continue to happen when you work hard, have a positive attitude and stay healthy.”
The Tufts women performed admirably in team events, notably with first-year Abby Claus, sophomores Grace Goetcheus and Hannah Truslow and junior Colleen Doolan taking second place in the 800 freestyle relay on Friday.
Individually, the Jumbos fared even better. First-years featured prominently over the course of the weekend, with first-year Amber Chong claiming seventh in the one-meter dive and Sook-Hee Evans placing sixth with a time of 1:56.64 in the 200 freestyle.
Goetcheus had a phenomenal weekend, sweeping away her competition in the 200 IM by posting a 2:09.70 time, more than two seconds ahead of all other swimmers in the pool.
“MIT and NYU are two of the top teams in all of Div. III, so the fact that we had both relays and individual swimmers beat members from these teams was a huge boost in confidence for all of us,” Goetcheus said. “It really displayed how the increased intensity of our training this year has been paying off, as we’re starting the season off the strongest we ever have in the past few years.”
Ironically, first-year Jackie Crater came in second in the 200 backstroke with a 2:03.43, but in the process broke Goetchus’ all-time Tufts record from last season. Not only did she break the school record, but Crater also timed into the NCAA-B cut by 0.44 seconds. Despite being surpassed, Goetcheus was more than happy to shower praise on Crater and her other teammates.
“The attitude at the meet was phenomenal,” Goetcheus said. “We had Jumbos cheering for their teammates behind every lane of every race, and as a result we had numerous swimmers get best times, set team records, obtain NCAA cuts, and win their events. I really think every single one of us gave everything we had up to this point in our training.”
In the 200 breaststroke on Sunday, senior captain Anna Kimura took second overall with a 2:21.04, also swimming under the NCAA-B cut. For the coaches, having swimmers up and down the lineup bring their A-games was a dream come true. Even in the individual events, the excitement and support from the Tufts’ sideline was palpable.
“What stood out the most was that it was a total team effort this past weekend at the MIT Invitational,” Bigelow said. “We started the meet with a second place finish in the 800 Free relay and we have not placed a relay in the top three in many years at this meet. It was just the start of a great meet for everyone, not just a few people.”
As the Jumbos recuperate after a long and tiresome weekend, they look forward to what’s in store in Middletown, Conn.
“Our quad-meet against Williams, Wesleyan [and WPI] should be an exciting weekend,” senior captain Alli Dorneo said. “It’s not too often that we get to race other NESCAC teams in season. We’ve always gone head to head with Wesleyan in my time Tufts, so I think there’ll be some really exciting races to watch.”
Able to hold their own against top competition at MIT, taking on NESCAC rivals Wesleyan and Williams as the semester winds to a close offers the Jumbos another chance to assert themselves in the standings.
“We beat WPI and Wesleyan last year, but Wesleyan just barely scored above us at NESCACs, so we’ve been training with that fact in mind. Williams is also a great team to race against because they push us to our limits in the pool, which is sure to result in some great upcoming races,” Goetcheus said. “It’s also our last meet of the year and therefore our last time to race before we really start gearing up for our championship meet, so my personal and our team goal is really just to race with everything we’ve got left and leave it all in the pool, hopefully resulting in a trio of victories.”
Williams is, according to Bigelow, the cream of the crop in the NESCAC, having won the conference championship every year except one since the turn of the millennium, and therefore doesn’t give the Jumbos much opportunity to take a break against softer competition.
With finals and long Boston nights looming over the next few weeks, the women’s swimming and diving team will have to power through for one last weekend of work in the pool. Worn out as they may be, Bigelow is keeping things in perspective, encouraging the team to take a breather and take it one step at a time.
“Since it is the last week of the semester and stress levels are high, we will continue to work hard, but will work more on race strategies and technique, and cut down on our time in the water,” Bigelow said. “Wesleyan, WPI and Williams all have top tier competitors and we want to be ready to compete against the best.”