The Jumbos returned to campus with a split showing last week, falling to the Boston College Eagles on Tuesday before topping the Wheaton Thunder on Saturday.
Against Boston College, a Div. I school, Tufts lost 263–111, signaling its ability to compete with elite programs. In the match against Wheaton, that competitiveness turned into tangible success in the form of a 173–120 victory, and an impressive 10 individual wins.
Senior co-captain Anna Kimura dominated the breaststroke, winning the 200-yard race by over five seconds against fellow Jumbos, sophomore Katherine Brown and senior Meghan Casey. Perhaps even more impressive was her victory by 4.30 seconds in the 100-yard breaststroke, finishing with a time of 1:08.20 over first-year Emma Seymour and Casey. Junior Colleen Doolan swam her way to a victory in the 200-yard freestyle and finished just a quarter of a second out of first in the 100-yard version. First-year Sook-Hee Evans praised the team’s upperclassmen for their leadership.
“Colleen [Doolan] and Anna [Kimura] have been great role models for the rest of the team,” Evans said. “They are consistently positive and hardworking, and the team really looks up to them as leaders.”
As they were earlier in the week against Boston College, Tufts’ first-years were again an important factor in the team’s success against Wheaton. First-year winners included Abby Claus and Amber Chong, who topped the 200-yard butterfly and one-meter diving, respectively. Not to overlook the sophomore class, Grace Goetcheus triumphed in a tight 100-yard backstroke. Claus and first-year Sasha Fong finished in a dead tie for second place in the 100-yard butterfly, both only 0.06 seconds off Wheaton senior Jenna Hayden’s winning time of 1:00.56. With Brown placing second behind Kimura in the 200-yard breaststroke and Seymour finishing behind Kimura in the 100-yard breaststroke, Tufts appears to have strong depth in both events for years to come. Evans put in a stellar performance in the tricky 1000-yard freestyle, crediting her success to the hard work achieved in between meets.
“Long-distance events require a lot of distance-specific training in practice,” she said. “[This] means [the] distance group does a lot of long, tough workouts while other swimmers do much shorter sets. Distance swimming requires a lot of mental toughness and less technical skill.”
On Tuesday, the Jumbos received standout performances from swimmers with a variety of experience levels, despite tough competition from the Eagles. Tufts had three winners from three different classes, including Kimura in both the 100 and 200-yard breaststrokes.
“For every swimmer, approaches to races are different,” Kimura told the Daily in an email. “Since this is my last year, I’ve been focusing on trying to enjoy every moment and race. I’ve also been tweaking my technique throughout the season, which has definitely helped.”
Doolan swam away with a top finish in the 200-yard butterfly, and Brown triumphed in the 50-yard breaststroke. Both swimmers faced stiff competition, finishing their races with an Eagle right on their tails. Brown finished her race in 32.05 seconds, finishing just 0.66 seconds ahead of Boston College sophomore Julianna Carbone, while Doolan was a mere 0.14 seconds ahead of sophomore Victoria Lin.
The first-years certainly did not go unnoticed and made their mark in the top three of numerous events. Claus flashed her versatility, finishing second in both the 200-yard freestyle and the 200 individual medley. First-year Lily Kurtz placed third in the 200-yard breast behind Kimura, while Evans finished third in the 500-yard freestyle. Fong came in second in the 50-yard butterfly, and first-year Jackie Crater capped off the strong performances by placing third in the 200-yard backstroke. Additionally, Chong placed third in the three-meter diving competition.
Kimura explained that the rest of the team has taken notice of the first-years’ strong showings.
“[We’ve been] very impressed,” she said. “They have all been doing really well this season despite it being their first season at the collegiate level. [They have] definitely stepped up to the challenge!”
Evans explained that the first-years have been proud to help the team step up its game this year.
“The upperclassmen say that this year, the [first-year] team has definitely put in the most work in the pool and the weight room,” Evans said.
The Jumbos will look to build on their positive momentum as they enter the championship season. The victory over Wheaton marked the end of Tufts’ dual-meet schedule, during which they went an impressive 5–2. Thus the start of championship season.
“For some, their championship meet is the Middlebury Invitational, and for others, it is NESCACs,” Kimura said. “We’re in the final countdown now, so we are all trying to focus as much as possible on the little details of our swimming — starts, turns, finishes, breathing patterns — while trying to be as healthy as possible. Hopefully, we’ll see a lot of time drops at our championship meets!”
The NESCAC Championships at Williams College on Feb. 16–18 mark the end of the season for most, though the NCAA Championships are still a goal for many of the Jumbos. Doolan was one of Tufts’ two competitors at the NCAA Championships last season, along with Amanda Gottschalk (LA ’17).
First, however, the Jumbos will head to Vermont for the Middlebury Invitational on Feb. 2–3.