Swimming Falls to Top-Ranked Ephs in Last Dual Meet

By Emily Bustard

Middlebury Swimming and Diving had their last dual meet of the season at Williams on Saturday, Jan. 23. The Panther men and women fell to the Ephs 186-94 and 211-83, respectively, struggling to keep up with Williams’ nationally ranked teams.

Head Coach Bob Rueppel explained back in Nov. that swimming against top NESCAC teams like Williams “[is] great because … that’s the bar we’re shooting for.”
“Williams is always a tough, but fun meet,” said Women’s co-Captain Maddie Pierce ’16 in an echo of Rueppel’s sentiment. “They are an incredibly strong team, but we enjoy racing them.”

Lily Sawyer ’16, one of Pierce’s two co-captains, was “[excited] that all of our girls held their own [against] some of the strongest swimmers in D3.”
The Panthers started with a strong showing in the long-distance 1000 free. Mike McGean ’17 won the men’s 1000 with a time of 10:04.63, just 3.09 seconds before his closest competitor. Andrew Rosenthal ’16 finished fourth in the close race, touching 6.22 seconds behind McGean (10:10.85). Lucy Scott ’16 and Angela Riggins ’19 secured second and third in the women’s event with their 10:54.13 and 11:07.29 performances.

Middlebury’s next couple of victories came when Isabel Wyer ’18 clocked a 1:56.07 to win the 200 free, and Stephan Koenigsberger ’16 finished first in the 50 breast (27.65) a few events later. Liza MacCowatt ’19 took third for the Panthers in the women’s 50 breast with her 32.46-second swim.

Grace Stimson ’19 led her heat in the 200 fly with a time of 2:16.51 and Morgan Burke ’17 sprinted to third in the 50 free (25.53). The Middlebury men captured second through fourth in the 50 free, with Jack McLaughlin ’18, Taylor Moore ’18 and Paul Lagasse’s ’16 times of 22.07, 22.69 and 22.72.

Elissa DeNunzio ’18 and Will Greene ’19 competed next on the three-meter diving board, earning second and first place, respectively, with their 209.47 and 217.57-point dives. DeNunzio and Greene went on to finish second (196.65) and first (232.72) on the one-meter board as well.

Then back on the blocks, McLaughlin and Burke were runners-up for the men and women in 100 free (48.82 and 55.11). Wyer finished second in the 200 back (2:11.93), while Brendan Leech ’19 clinched third for the Panther men in the same event (2:01.12).

Connor McCormick ’18 earned Middlebury’s seventh collective victory of the day in the 200 breast (2:15.37) by a margin of 4.87 seconds. Meanwhile, Stimson came second in the women’s 200 breast with a time of 2:34.47 and Alaina Pribis ’19 rounded out the day by swimming to a third place finish in the 500 free (5:23.43).

“The team is [now] excited to head into championship season,” Pierce said. “We have a great group of girls finishing out their season at Midd Invite. We know they will swim fast and set the tone for the team heading to NESCACs.”

The Panthers will swim in the Middlebury Invitational this Friday evening at 5:30 p.m., and Saturday at 10 a.m. (Jan. 29-30).

“We are training at a level that we’ve never done before …[and] have built up an incredible base this season,” co-Captain Megan Griffin ’16 said. “At this point it’s about fine tuning the details and believing that everything will come together when it matters.”