Swimming & Diving Splashes into Championships

By ANNA WOOD

COURTESY PHOTO
Brendan Leech ’19 sprints to a finish in the 100-yard fly at the Middlebury Invitational.

Throughout the second half of Winter Term, the swim and dive teams competed in their final meets before the NESCAC Championship. On Saturday, Jan. 26, the Panthers faced Hamilton and Williams. The following weekend, they hosted Williams and the University of Vermont at the Middlebury Invitational. 

According to Kristen Karpowitz ’19, the team hopes to score higher than last year at NESCACs. It previously placed seventh and is capable of placing closer to fifth this year. 

“By our dual-meet results, we definitely can beat some teams that we lost to last year,” Karpowitz said. 

In their last dual meet, the swim and dive teams bested Hamilton 222-77 on the women’s side and 212-66 on the men’s side. The teams lost to Williams, the women 171-122 and the men 164-110. 

Audrey Hsi ’22, Frances VanderMeer ’20 and Grace Stimson ’19 continued their successful season with wins in their individual events at the tri-meet. Hsi and Vandermeer won the 100 backstroke (1:00.96) and 50 backstroke (27.46) respectively, while Stimson claimed the 100 individual medley in 1:02.74. 

Both the men’s and women’s 200 free relay teams beat the Ephs and Continentals to the wall. On the women’s side, VanderMeer, Maddie McKean ’22, Courtney Gantt ’22 and Erin Kelly ’21 stopped the clock first in 1:39.86. The men’s squad of Corey Jalbert ’21, Jake Gaughan ’22, Bryan Chang ’22 and Brendan Leech ’19 won in 1:27.56. On the diving boards, Mike Chirico ’20 triumphed in both the one-meter (267.75) and three-meter (271.75) events. 

The swim and dive teams had further opportunity to get ready for NESCACs in the annual Middlebury Invitational, hosted on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 1 and 2. In this unscored meet, the Panthers captured multiple event victories over the Ephs and the Catamounts. 

The women’s team secured six event titles. Erin Kelly ’21 was pivotal in four of them. Individually, she took both the 50 freestyle (24.83) and the 100 breaststroke (1:07.89). She also accompanied VanderMeer, McKean and Hsi in the 200 medley relay, which finished first in 1:48.16. McKean, Kelly, Audrey Kelly ’21 and VanderMeer then sprinted through the 400 free relay, out-touching the rest of the competition in 3:37.07. 

Other winning efforts came from VanderMeer in the 100 backstroke (59.88) and Karpowitz in the 400 individual medley (4:38.89). Diver Olivia Rieur was runner-up in both the one-meter (381.00 points) and three-meter (396.23 points) events. 

The men’s team claimed the opening event: Jalbert, Leech, Chang and Will Pannos ’20 finished the 200 free relay first in 1:26.35. The 400-yard medley relay of Kevin Santoro ’21, Cody Kim ’22, Jack Dowling ’19 and Gaughan also triumphed with a time of 3:34.51. 

Max Sassi ’22 excelled in his individual events, winning the 50 free (22.18) and 100 free (49.21). Additional wins came from Pannos in the 200-yard individual medley (1:57.10), Morgan Matsuda ’19 in the 100 breaststroke (59.95) and Santoro in the 100 backstroke (53.31). In the diving events, Chirico again sweeped both boards, taking the one-meter title with 481.73 points and the three-meter win with 482.18 points.

Bolstered by these victories, the Panthers are approaching the rest of their season with confidence. Karpowitz noted, “The team is trying to keep our morale up and work together and make sure that we’re getting all the little things right in the last few days of practice to fully feel rested and ready to go for the meet this weekend.” 

This weekend, Feb. 15-17, the women head to Wesleyan for their NESCAC Championship. Middlebury will host the NESCAC Men’s Swimming & Diving Championship in the natatorium the following weekend, Feb. 22-24. 

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Swimming & Diving Splashes into Championships