Swimming and diving teams face steep competition in final fall meet

First-year Jeanette Khowong swims the butterfly at the MIT Invitational on Dec. 2, 2018. (Courtesy Paul Rutherford)

The Jumbos headed to Middletown, Conn. to race against NESCAC rivals Wesleyan and Williams alongside non-conference opponents WPI on Saturday. The women defeated Wesleyan and WPI but fell to 2018 conference champion Williams, while the men soundly defeated Wesleyan but fell to both WPI and Williams at the quad-meet.

Women’s swimming and diving

Meanwhile, in the first event of the day for the women’s team, sophomore Lily Kurtz swam the 50-yard breaststroke in 30.60 seconds to finish second behind Williams junior Caroline White. Kurtz then followed it up with a third-place finish in the 100 breast. In the 50-yard backstroke, first-year Jeannette Khowong stole second in 28.24 seconds while junior Grace Goetcheus finished fifth, less than half of a second later. Khowong went on to win the 100-yard backstroke in 59.74 seconds while sophomore Sasha Fong placed second in both the 50- and 100-yard fly.

Sophomore Abby Claus had a standout day, finishing third in the 400-yard Individual Medley (IM) in 4:37.91 before finishing second in the 200-yard fly in 2:08.93 behind Williams sophomore Molly Craig. Claus finished off the day with a second-place win in the 400-yard freestyle relay alongside Fong, first-year Mary Hufziger and senior Colleen Doolan, who together finished in 3:36.35 behind Williams’ 3:34.03. Overall, the squad soundly defeated Wesleyan and WPI 234–80 and 237–84, respectively, but fell to Williams 214.5–104.5.

“Today’s focus was about being tough and having a good attitude after last weekend’s exhausting three-day meet and a week full of training,” sophomore Katherine Sweester said. “I think we did everything we could. We had good energy compared to last year.”

Coach Adam Hoyt agrees, noting that the athletes met the goals set for them for the quad-meet.

“Technically and strategically, the women competed very well,” he said. “Times went up from the MIT Invitational last week, but that’s to be expected given the circumstances. I asked the athletes to get up and perform their best, and although there’s work to be done, overall I’m pleased with their performance.”

Men’s swimming and diving

Meanwhile, on the men’s side, junior Roger Gu was once again exceptional on Saturday, capturing all of the Jumbos’ first-place finishes in individual races and also swimming in their one relay victory. The All-American started with a win in the 50-yard freestyle, reaching the wall 1.57 seconds in front of second-place Williams senior Curtis Maher. He went on to win the 200- and 100-yard freestyle in 1:42.89 and 46.30 seconds, respectively. In the last event of the day, Gu led first-years Nate Tingen and Tar Tar Jarusinchai and junior Tyler Tatro to a win in the 400-yard freestyle relay in 3:06.62, posting by far the fastest leg of the entire race with an individual time of 44.02 seconds. 

Tingen also had a noteworthy day in his individual events, capturing second in the 50-yard and 100-yard backstroke in 23.88 and 51.82 seconds, respectively. He placed fourth in the 100-yard freestyle 1.63 seconds behind Gu. Last week’s NESCAC Performer of the Week, first-year Joseph Kim, gained speed throughout the day; he took fifth in the 500-yard freestyle, third in the 400-yard IM and tied for second in the 200-yard backstroke with Williams sophomore Jackson Karofsky in 1:55.73.

The Jumbos picked up some extra points from junior Alexander Burnam’s third-place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke and fourth-place finishes from Tatro in the 200-yard freestyle, senior Brandon Jinn in the 500-yard freestyle and sophomore Lomax Turner in the 100- and 200-yard fly. Overall, the Jumbos defeated the Wesleyan Cardinals 243–62 but narrowly fell to the WPI Engineers 157–148 and the Williams Ephs 170.5–121.5.

“Today was a relatively disappointing loss, especially because we beat both WPI and Williams at this meet last year,” Turner said. “But both teams put so much work in today and gave us great competition. This was a good wake-up call and an opportunity to reflect and improve moving forward. We had some incredible swims, though; I’m very proud of [Gu] and [Tingen].”

Despite the disappointment, Hoyt remains positive.

“It’s clear that we have more to do to reach the level we hope to be at by the end of the season, but the focus and effort is there,” he said. “The men didn’t swim the fastest, but there were some smart races. The guys will need to rest to swim fast, and they certainly didn’t get much rest this week.”

Today marks the Jumbos’ last official practice of 2018 as the swimmers train based on their own schedules during finals. Hoyt encouraged them to focus on their academics, stay healthy and keep training consistent during this time of the season. After training at home for the first few weeks of winter break, the athletes will fly out to Stuart, Fla. For their annual training trip.

“In Florida, we get in 10 workouts a week,” Hoyt said. “It’s huge for fitness and an important time training-wise, but the best part of it is that the team really gets closer. We all enjoy having no other stress besides training, eating together and hanging out.”

Once the Jumbos return from the Sunshine State to Medford, they’ll compete in a double-header weekend after the first few days of spring semester. They will race against Wheaton College in Norton, Mass. on Jan. 19, before taking on Boston College at home the next day.