Swimming and Diving Returns with Breakthrough Wins

By Fritz Parker

After a week-long training trip in Florida, the Middlebury swimming and diving teams returned to take on Colby and Bates in a pair of dual meets at home on Jan. 5 and 6. Both the men’s and women’s teams came away from both meets with convincing wins.

From Dec. 27 to Feb. 3, the Panthers benefited from warm weather, while practicing in Key Largo, Fl. twice a day, in outdoor pools.

“The trip was exceptional,” said head coach Bob Rueppel. “Our volume of training was incredible. The kids were able to handle a workload that I’ve never given them before. It was one of the best training trips I’ve ever been on in 30 years of coaching.”

Playing host to Colby after returning from the trip, the Panther men were led by multi-event winners James Wing ’15 in the 50-meter and 100-meter backstroke, Ethan Litman ’13 in the 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle and Ian MacKay ’14 in the 50 freestyle and 50 butterfly. The three also contributed to the victorious 200 free relay. The men won every event on the day en route to a 224-69 overall win.

On the women’s side, Jamie Hillas ’15 won the 50-meter breaststroke and the 200-meter individual medley while Lydia Carpenter ’15 won the 50-meter and 10-meter freestyle, pacing Middlebury for a 237-62 victory over the Mules, the Panthers winning all but one event.

“We knew coming off the trip with the volume of training we were doing that we were going to be very tired,” said Rueppel. “I think that the confidence level that it gives them to be able to perform at that level when they’re exhausted is great. We were focused on racing, not on time, not on beating another team.”

On both the women’s and men’s side of the meet, divers contributed to the large margin of victory. Dylan Peters ’16 blew away the competition in both the three-meter and the one-meter dive while Coleen Harper’14, Hannah King ’13 and Adrianna Baker ’15 took first, second and third place respectively in both the one-meter and three-meter events.

Back in action against Bates, the Panthers picked up right where they had left off the day before. Andy Rosenthal ’16 stood out in the long distance freestyle events while Jacob Fisher ’16 had breakthrough performances in the backstroke events, helping the men cruise past the Bobcats 176-122.

Hillas, Maddy Berkman ’15 and Maddie Pierce ’16 each won two events against Bates. The women again dominated the team scoring, racking up a 186-108 win.

“I was thrilled,” said Rueppel. “No one had an excuse. Everyone just knew we were here to race. It was a great team effort. When you’re fatigued you can make mental mistakes, and they didn’t.”

The weekend’s meets were also the season’s first for some Panther juniors returning from abroad.

“With the kids that were abroad, they just slipped right in,” said Rueppel. “It gave me an opportunity to see where they are in terms of conditioning.”

After a weekend without competition, the swim team goes on the road to Union on Saturday, Jan. 19. With the regular season drawing to a close in late January, the Panther swimmers have only a few more chances to race before the start of championship season.

“It’s going to be a great couple weeks of training to build off of the training trip,” said Rueppel. “Then, having Union and Williams as our last two meets, we move into a new phase of training. Then we name our NESCAC team. I’m really pleased with where we are.”

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