Despite competing as the only Div. III team at the Boston Winter Open, Tufts women’s swimming and diving claimed multiple collegiate and personal records to end its regular season. The competing Div. I teams included host Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern and Fairfield.
“I think all of us were so happy with how we did,” junior Taissa Gladkova said. “There were countless lifetime bests, and college bests and the energy was just so good and positive. Going into this year, my coach said that we are on the edge of greatness and I really believe that, that we are capable of doing really great things and this beginning of our championship season really showed that.”
Junior Brooke Bernstein competed in the 50-yard freestyle, posting a 24.28 second time, placing eighth and earning the fastest Tufts time in the event. Bernstein also raced in the 50-yard butterfly, earning a 26.45 second time. Junior Hannah Truslow competed in the 500-yard freestyle, posting a 5:08.80 time and placing third, four seconds behind Northeastern senior Sophie Tallier.
Senior co-captain Ailish Dougherty competed in the last race of her Tufts career in the 1,650-yard freestyle, placing second in the event with a 17:53.63 time, good enough for a personal record. Dougherty reflected with pride on her final race and her Tufts career.
“This was my last mile ever, and I have been swimming for 13 years,” Dougherty said. “I’m the only senior who has stuck with distance throughout the first four years of college, so it was really special for me to be able to swim that last mile.”
Swimming the mile has always been a test of enduring physical and mental strength, and the team’s support helped Dougherty during her final mile.
“People always ask me what I think about during the mile, and I don’t think about anything. I just think about how much it hurts, number one, but this race I really was thinking about how special this was,” she said. “I probably have done over 50 miles in my life, 50 of those races, and knowing that this was the last one and being there with all my teammates was really amazing.”
Dougherty cites the strength of the team’s support for each other as well as the passion of each swimmer as the main reason why so many swimmers claimed personal and collegiate bests.
“Almost everyone who swam at this meet had a lifetime best or a college best,” she said. “What I was most proud of was that seniors and juniors who hadn’t hit times since high school were meeting those times, and it just goes to show that after four years of Div. III swimming you can still improve and I think it had to do with how passionate we all were.”
Other Tufts seniors also competed in their last regular season meet. Senior Alex Good competed in the 100-yard butterfly, placing tenth with a 58.09 second time, less than a second behind Maria Russo from Boston College and Maddie Mowad from Fairfield, who tied for eighth place. Senior Caroline McCormick earned fourth in both the 100-yard backstroke with a 59.68 and the 200-yard backstroke at 2:08.90.
Younger talent also had a great showing at the meet; first-year Emily Payne swam a 53.95 second time in the 100-yard freestyle. In the 200-yard breaststroke, sophomore Rachel Marston earned fourth place with a time of 2:30.14, three seconds behind third-place junior Jamie Doherty from Boston College.
On the diving side, Gladkova earned a score of 202.12 in the three-meter dive, clinching second place.
“I get really nervous diving for three-meter and I think I was just trying to be calm and I knew that I could do all of these dives,” Gladkova said. “I’ve done them before and just repeating that and trusting my training and trusting my coach, and letting them [the dives] happen because I know they can.”
The Jumbos dominated the time trials, with Truslow boasting a first-place 2:09.37 in the 200-yard backstroke. The team of McCormick, sophomore Emma Seymour, senior Madeline Lee and first-year Serena Derderian posted the fastest time at the 200-yard medley relay at 1:50.71.
With the regular season coming to a close, the team feels as though the successes at the Boston Winter Open bode well for the upcoming NESCAC Championships.
“People were looking at the times we [Tufts] were all going and saying, ‘oh, these are the people who didn’t get invited to the conference team?’ It just shows how our fast our conference team is going to be and how competitive we are going to be in the NESCAC,” Dougherty said.
The NESCAC Championships start this Friday at Wesleyan.