Women’s swimming and diving finishes eighth in Ivy Champs

by Gayne Kalustian | 2/23/14 6:30pm

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by Natalie Cantave / The Dartmouth

Providence dealt a heavy blow to the women’s swim and dive team this weekend, as the Big Green came in eighth place in the Ivy League Championships at Brown University. The team had high hopes of improving on last year’s fifth-place performance, but the seniors were forced to hang up their fast suits and swim caps with a disappointing finish at the bottom of the scoreboard. The team scored 535 points, 874 points behind first place Harvard University.

The ladies had aimed for fourth place, one step above their finish last year, but struggled to make it into A finals or, for some, out of the preliminary heats. After a long season of training, the swimmers had trouble bouncing back physically, co-captain Christine Kerr ’14 said.

“We just didn’t seem to be able to recover,” she said. “We had masseuses and ice baths, but we were just tired.”

On the first day, the 400-yard medley relay team was disqualified for a premature start. The team had to forfeit 40 points as a result. That loss, however, was not necessarily the deciding factor, Danielle Kerr ’14 said.

“I honestly don’t think it would’ve made a difference,” Danielle Kerr said. “People were so far off their best times. It was more than just the morale.”

While overall the team performance left much to be desired, several swimmers took home personal records and highlight memories.

Mary Van Metre ’14 had a personal best, competing in the A finals on Thursday in the 50-yard freestyle thanks to a time of 23.02 in the preliminaries.

“I had never made A finals before,” she said. “It was cool that it was my senior year because I was the old fart, and all these younger kids were really fast. It was awesome to finally achieve that goal, especially since my teammates were super supportive and giving me hugs afterward.”

In the final event, Dartmouth’s strongest relay team of Kendese Nangle ’16, Van Metre, Siobhan Hengemuhle ’15 and Charlotte Kamai ’16 repeated last year’s top three performance by touching in third after Harvard, which touched in first, was disqualified.

“Though I really wish that we had done better collectively,” Van Metre said, “I think it was obvious that we all swam with our hearts.”

On a more sentimental level, the Kerr twins competed in the 500-yard freestyle A final together, a fitting capstone to their careers.

Danielle Kerr finished sixth and Christine Kerr finished eighth, so the sisters stood next to each other on the podium. Since her shoulder surgery 11 months ago, Christine Kerr said, her goal was to swim and make an A final at the Ivy Championships.

“I got to stand right next to my sister,” Christine Kerr said. “That was more than I ever thought I would be able to do. That made my Dartmouth career.”

Danielle Kerr, the only swimmer to make it into both an A final and two B finals, recognized the team’s potential for growth.

“The coaches had a meeting with us and told us they tried new things this year, and they clearly didn’t work out like we’d hoped,” she said. “But things like this have to happen so change can take place and we can learn to be better.”

The men’s team takes to the pool next weekend in Cambridge, Mass., for Ivy Championships.