Swimmers struggle while divers shine in first home meet

by Alexander Agadjanian | 1/12/15 7:56pm

In a three-team swim meet last Saturday in Hanover, the swimming and diving program got off to a poor start to begin its Ivy League schedule. Swimming for the first time this season in its own Karl Michael Pool, the men’s team fell by scores of 216-84 to Yale University and 169-130 to University of Pennsylvania, while the women’s team lost 243-57 to Yale and 216-84 to Penn.

In the third meet of the young season, both the men’s and women’s teams returned to action after having continued — and even increased — their practice regimen over winter break. In an effort to maintain their progress, the swimmers trained in Hawaii for two weeks, while the divers traveled to Texas and Puerto Rico during the break.

“Typically we have like one practice a day here, but whenever we go on a training trip we practice twice a day and usually for longer periods of time,” diver Brett Gillis ’16 said. “More repetition is obviously going to help with our kind of sport.”

On Saturday, Gillis was one of the prime performers for Dartmouth, excelling in both of his events Already holding the school record in the men’s one-meter dive with a score of 361.15, the junior placed second in the event this time around with a 292.45. In the three-meter dive, Gillis routed his fellow competitors with a 344.85 score en route to a first-place finish, nearly matching his school record of 377.55 in the event.

Recent injury and ongoing recovery only further magnify Gillis’s superb efforts. At the team’s last swim meet on the first weekend of December at Brown University, the diver hit his head on the board during his last dive, requiring 32 staples on his head.

“I didn’t expect to be back so soon, but it healed pretty quickly,” Gillis said. “And then, I started training again at the end of December in Puerto Rico. I’ve only been practicing for a couple weeks now, so I didn’t expect [the meet] to be that great.”

Coach Jim Wilson was impressed with Gillis’ quick return.

“He hasn’t competed since [Brown], so to see him step up and do so well, everybody was really happy for him,” he said. “He’s a great diver. He was second [in the one-meter dive] at Ivies last year, and I’m confident he’ll be at the top of the Ivy League again this year.”

Both the men’s one-meter and three-meter dive competitions resulted in some of the Big Green’s greatest successes all day, as three of the top four point-scorers represented Dartmouth in each of these events. In addition to Gillis’s feats, senior Ryan Shelley ’15 (295.45 score) topped the one-meter dive while sophomore Taylor Clough ’17 (254.20) came in fourth place. In the three-meter dive Clough (290.80) also placed second, with his teammate Shelley (271.15) rounding out the top four.

Gillis spoke about his unit’s performance this weekend.

“For the divers, Ryan [Shelley], who got first on the one-meter, has been really consistent,” Gillis said. “Taylor also just got back from back issues he’s been having. He hasn’t practiced for a while, but then like me, we started training [again] at the same time in Puerto Rico.”

On the swimmers side, freshman AnnClaire MacArt ’18 continued a fantastic start to her Dartmouth career, grabbing fourth place in both the 100-yard freestyle and the 200-yard freestyle with times of 53.23 and 1:52.29, respectively. She also managed to grab third place in the 500-yard freesyle with a time of 4:59.67.

Coach Wilson believed the development of the freshmen swimmers — with MacArt at the center — has been critical for the team, regarding it as a positive sign for the future.

“On the women’s side, AnnClaire [MacArt] really dominated,” Coach Wilson said. “I think she did a great job in her events. Her [500-yard freestyle] was under five minutes. That’s very good for this time of year.”

MacArt said even though Saturday’s meet was tough, she learned valuable lessons about racing.

“I think we learned more of how we stand as a team, and how we race as a team,” she said. “We had positive things at the meet… We knew we had the training behind us to go faster, so it’s like another step towards the Ivies.”

Moving past this most recent challenging meet, Gillis feels that the entire team is headed towards a positive direction and will prove to be a strong competitor.

“I was pretty happy with this last meet, hopefully [we] can do better in the next one as well,” Gillis said. “We’re continuing practices now regularly, so we should actually improve by the [Ivy League Championships].”

The men’s and women’s teams will be back in action on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 23 and 24 at the Dartmouth Invitational.