The women’s swim and dive team finished second at the NESCAC Championships at Middlebury over the weekend, tying its highest finish in program history for the second consecutive year.
Finishing the meet with 1593.5 points, Tufts battled back and forth with first-place Williams (1930.5 points) over the course of the four days. Ultimately, Tufts fell short as Williams dominated the final day of competition to successfully defend its title. Amherst closely trailed Tufts the entire way with its third-place effort of 1369 points, but the deficit that Amherst faced ultimately proved too much to overcome.
“We had an amazing meet,” coach Adam Hoyt said. “The women stepped up to the challenge throughout the weekend, and I’m so proud of the effort and enthusiasm which was on display every session.”
The Jumbos kicked off the championship in a record-setting fashion. On Thursday night, senior co-captain Grace Goetcheus, first-year Claire Brennan, junior Abby Claus and sophomore Mary Hufziger achieved a school record time of 7:26.71 in the 800-yard freestyle relay, finishing second behind the Ephs squad. The Jumbos’ B relay of first-year Chloe Deveney, first-year Katelin Isakoff, junior Sook-Hee Evans and junior Amy Socha also combined for an impressive swim, finishing with a time of 7:30.24 that would have placed them in fourth had they raced in the championship heat. Both relays were well under the 7:39.30 NCAA B cut standard.
Brennan led the Jumbos in individual scoring, adding 86 total points and placing in the top eight in all of her individual events. Her best swim came in the 100-yard freestyle, where she outpaced her competition to capture her first ever individual NESCAC title in a time of 51.07, breaking her school record set in preliminaries and earning her an NCAA B cut. Brennan also raced in the 200-yard freestyle where she finished second with a school record time of 1:49.36, as well as the 500-yard freestyle, where her fourth-place time of 4:56.49 broke yet another school record.
“I was just super excited to be swimming for such an awesome team,” Brennan said. “The team is such a close-knit group of people, and we work really hard to support each other through everything. The energy in the pool when I won made it such a special moment.”
The rest of the Jumbos followed suit, putting up record swim after record swim throughout the grueling four-day-long championship. Hufziger captured the 200-yard freestyle crown ahead of her teammate Brennan with a time of 1:48.77, breaking both a school record and a Middlebury pool record. In the 200-yard butterfly, Socha overcame a one second deficit to blow by her competitors in the final 50 yards of the race, finishing first in 2:01.77 and breaking both school and pool records. In the 200-yard IM, Goetcheus used a strong backstroke split to distance herself from the field, ultimately hanging on to finish second in a school record time of 2:04.76. All three swims established NCAA B cuts.
To close the meet, the Jumbo quartet of Brennan, Isakoff, Socha and Hufziger delivered an emphatic performance in the final event of the meet: the 400-yard freestyle relay. Narrowly trailing Williams with one leg left to swim, Hufziger exploded off the blocks and into the pool, splitting a field best time of 50.24 that was over a second faster than any of her individual performances. With her incredible swim, the Jumbos edged out Williams by the slimmest of margins and denied them the coveted relay sweep. Their first place time of 3:24.74 once again established new school and pool records.
“The race was incredibly exciting, and I felt so proud to be able to close a great meet alongside my amazing teammates with everyone else cheering us on,” Isakoff said. “Finally beating Williams in a relay was so special because it was the type of moment that makes all the hard work worth it.”
Hoyt emphasized the key values that allowed the team to perform consistently throughout the weekend.
“Stay focused, enjoy every moment, have fun and let your bodies do what they do best,” Hoyt said. “We have a close-knit and supportive group of women on this team, and they stick together.”
Overall, Tufts capped off a successful championship weekend filled with fast performances from all swimmers on the team. The Jumbos set 13 new school records and achieved 35 total NCAA B cuts.
The women’s team competes this Sunday at Williams’ February Invitational, before the NCAA National Championships over spring break in March.
“[The future looks] very bright,” said Hoyt. “We’ve got great leaders spread throughout our classes. While our level of competitiveness has increased, our team has not lost sight of [the] team values which are focused on how we operate as a team. As long as we continue to embody those values, the sky is the limit for our team and program.”