The D Sports Awards: Yamahata ’18 voted best freshman

by Henry Arndt | 5/31/15 6:01pm

After releasing our nominees for The Dartmouth Sports Award for best freshman athlete on Friday, readers submitted more than 500 votes for their favorite freshman. At noon on Sunday, swimmer Taylor Yamahata ’18 was crowned as the Big Green’s best freshman athlete of the 2014-2015 year. Yamahata won the vote by a solid majority, collecting 321 of votes for 63 percent of the total.

Yamahata’s percentage of the votes was the second highest of this year’s D Sports Awards after Madison Hughes ’15 collected 64 percent of the votes for best male athlete.

In high school, Yamahata was a four-year varsity letter winner at Rio Americano High School in Sacramento, California, and was awarded the Capital Athletic League Champs Most Valuable Player, while also qualifying as a scholastic All-American. She brought this same success to Dartmouth in the pool and in the classroom, where she plans to study either psychology or biology.

Although she just completed her freshman season with the Big Green, Yamahata’s career as a swimmer began long ago. In an One-on-One interview with The Dartmouth in February, Yamahata said that she “was actually 18 months old when [she] first started swimming.” It was only five years later when Yamahata joined her first competitive swim team. As she grew older, Yamahata focused her repertoire of sports down from swimming, gymnastics and tennis to just swimming to prepare to compete at the collegiate level.

Throughout her first season for the Big Green, Yamahata swam well in her three main events — the 100-yard backstroke, the 200-yard backstroke and the 200-yard individual medley. In her first meet swimming for the Big Green and the team’s first meet of the 2014-2015 season, Yamahata competed in all three of those events, placing seventh in the 100-yard backstroke, fifth in the 200-yard backstroke and eighth in the 200-yard individual medley against swimmers from Harvard and Cornell Universities.

In the final meet of the regular season, Yamahata showcased the progress she made over the course of the season, competing in the same three events but taking first in the 200-yard backstroke, second in the 100-yard backstroke and third in the individual medley against Columbia University.

Although the women’s swimming and diving team struggled this year and finished eighth at the Ivy League Championship, Yamahata’s victory in the votes serves as a testament to her high level of performance this season, potentially indicating a higher level of success for the team in seasons to come.

Yamahata won the best freshman athlete award over four other nominees: baseball’s Patrick Peterson ’18, basketball’s Miles Wright ’18 and tennis players Ciro Riccardi ’18 and Kristina Mathis ’18. Last year, Nordic skier Patrick Caldwell ’17 was named the best freshman athlete.