Williams wins NESCAC Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships

Traveling to Bowdoin always poses a challenge for any Colby team, but it presented an even greater threat this past weekend as the women’s swimming and diving team also had to go up against nine other schools in the NESCAC Championships. Of the 11 teams facing off, four teams (Williams, Amherst, Conn, and Bates) were ranked in the top 25 for all of D-III, while Middlebury was sitting just outside the top 25. These teams proved themselves to be deserving of their rankings as they held the top five spots on the leaderboard all weekend. Best among them was Williams, who led after all three days on their way to a fourth consecutive NESCAC title.

This victory also served as a chance for the Ephs to avenge the last time they didn’t win NESCACs, which happened in 2013 against their long-time rivals Amherst. Williams didn’t leave anything up to doubt this time around as the difference between their point total (1856) and second place Amherst’s (1367) was larger than the gap between Amherst’s and sixth place Bowdoin’s. The Ephs also failed to lose a single “A” relay. Olivia Jackson ’20 was a member of two of those Williams relay teams and also won the 100 Backstroke and 200 Backstroke events. Jackson, who has been on the past four NESCAC-winning Williams teams, said, “Every NESCAC title that we have won has been really special. I would say this year felt particularly sweet because it is my senior year and winning four in a row is insanely cool.”

While Williams certainly dominated the headlines, there were ten other teams competing this weekend, including Colby. With so many top tier teams within the conference, the Mules decided to set more realistic goals by focusing on competing against Hamilton and Trinity, who are similarly skilled teams. After the first day, it looked like all three were evenly matched. Hamilton led the way with 150 points, but Colby was close behind with 137 and Trinity sat in last with 82. All three teams stayed locked in the same spots for the rest of the tournament with Hamilton finishing with a high of 388 points, and Colby ahead of Trinity at 284 points to their 281 points. The Mules’ three point edge was enough to keep them out of last place in the NESCAC.

While Hamilton did manage to out-gain Colby in total points, they failed to beat the Mules in any of the relay events. “Our strength [with the relays] really speaks to the way that this meet truly was a team effort and everyone played a big role,” Lily Wilson ’20 said. One of those relays, the 400 Freestyle Relay, was a highlight of the weekend for Colby. The event featured Catherine Cimini ’18, Olivia Hammer-Grant ’19, Maria Armillei ’20, and captain Katie Discipio ’17. Colby was able to hold off a close Tufts team with a time of 3:34.63, good for eighth place in the event.

NESCACs are the close of the 2016-17 season for Colby. While it might not have been the finish that the team hoped, there were still positive takeaways from the weekend. In addition to the 200 Freestyle Relay, Cimini had a top-16 finish in the 100 Butterfly and Armillei appeared in the finals a few times. On gaining experience from NESCACs, Wilson said, “Obviously for the freshmen in particular, being able to gain some confidence and comfort with the whole flow of the season and how college champs work will be hugely beneficial next year.” Discipio believes the team is in a good spot to improve for next season. “I’ve never been prouder of my team, and I hope they get better without me,” she said. For now, the team will take some rest up before starting back up with offseason lifts and swims in a few weeks.

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