Women’s swim and dive finishes eighth at Ivies

by Evan Morgan | 2/21/16 6:30pm

This weekend told an all too familiar tale for the Big Green women’s swim and dive team, as they finished in eighth place in the Ivy League Championships for the third straight year. Despite several record-breaking performances, the women finished with 532.5 points, seven points behind seventh-place Cornell University and trailing winner Harvard University by almost 1,000.

After dropping all of their dual meets this season, head coach Jim Wilson’s team had hoped to find some vindication at Princeton University’s DeNunzio Pool this weekend.

“We were not one of the teams that everybody was looking up to, but we were hoping to pick off a couple other teams,” Wilson said.

The Big Green had its goggles trained on Brown University, Columbia University and Cornell.

On the first day of the meet, the women looked on track to a better finish. The team’s 161 points had them in seventh place, 32 above Cornell.

Wilson said the second day was not as good as he had hoped, “but it was still us and Cornell.”

On the final day, the two teams were neck and neck until the final event.

“As a coach, as you go through that last day, you’re adding up points and figuring out where Cornell is going to swim and where you can beat them,” Wilson said. “[However], you can only control the way your swimmers swim and not the way the other team swims, so if they step up and have really good swims, it’s going to throw a monkey wrench into the plans that you made.”

That wrench finally came on Saturday night, and the Big Green slipped from seventh to eighth.

Though the meet was a disappointment for the team, it was not without individual success. The women, who tapered and shaved before the big meet, were excited at the prospect of swimming their best times of the season.

“It’s just so much fun to be able to get up there and be able to do something physically that I’ve never done before,” co-captain Charlotte Kamai ’16 said. “It doesn’t matter so much what the name on the person’s cap next to me is, I just want to beat them.”

Sophomore standout AnnClaire MacArt ’18 twice bested a three-year-old record in the 500-yard freestyle, touching in at 4 minutes and 49.37 seconds in the preliminary heat and then posting a 4:49.03 in the A final.

“That felt pretty awesome. I’ve been working toward that one for the whole season, and I really really wanted to go under 4:50,” MacArt said. “It was nice to start out like that, and to see everybody get pumped about it too was cool from a team aspect.”

The Big Green also took down a three-year-old team record by just a tenth of a second in the 200 freestyle relay. Kendese Nangle ’16 and Kamai had set the record at the Ivy Championships in 2013 their first year on the team.

“It was awesome that we made a full circle from freshman to senior year, being able to break the record with a whole new crop of teammates, including a ’17 and a ’19,” Kamai said.

Teammates also highlighted the performances of Allison Parent ’19, who finished 11th in the 200 backstroke, and Hayley Winter ’18, who took 14th in the 1650 freestyle.

Every member of the Dartmouth team who attended Ivy Championships contributed some individual points to the team effort, an uncommon feat according to Kamai.

Buoyed by the team’s close contention with Cornell, camaraderie was high at the season’s final meet.

“Everybody would be on the side of the pool deck cheering for somebody to have a great race, so there was always somebody there to hug them and congratulate them, especially our senior swimmers,” MacArt said.

Kamai noted that team spirit was off the charts over the weekend.

Ultimately, the women did improve from last year, narrowing the gap between the Big Green and the other teams at the bottom of the standings. Wilson announced his retirement in October, so this year is one of transition for the Dartmouth swimmers. However, MacArt sees reason for optimism.

“It was fun to see this turnaround from last year,” she said. “There’s a lot to look forward to coming into next year.”

Correction appended (Feb. 22, 2016):

The original version of this article incorrectly stated AnnClaire MacArt ’18 twice bested a three-year-old record in the 500-meter freestyle. In fact, she twice bested therecord in the 500-yard freestyle.