Men win meet and set records while women fall short of first

by Daniel Wayland | 1/28/15 5:49pm

The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams hosted a thrilling Dartmouth Invitational last weekend, ending in first and second place overall finishes for the Big Green, respectively.

The men’s team secured a resounding win, scoring 1,221.5 points and beating the closest competitor, Connecticut College, by nearly 300 points to win the invitational title. Following Conn. College’s 951.1 points was the University of Massachusetts with 779 points.

The women’s team beat all three schools — Conn. College, UMass and Northeastern University — in the dual meet scoring, yet lost the invitational title in heartbreaking fashion, scoring 1,006 points to Northeastern’s 1,007. UMass claimed third with 829 points and Conn. College took fourth with 378 points.

“It was such a close finish,” freshman phenomenon AnnClaire MacArt ’18 said. “I mean, you can find so many different points in the meet where if we had gone one place higher we would have won.”

There was little more MacArt could have done to have placed higher, winning three of the individual races she swam in: the 200, 500 and 1,650-yard freestyle competitions.

Overall the freshman girls, who head coach Jim Wilson described being “as a group, very, very strong,” put in a fine performance. In addition to MacArt’s top finishes, Hayley Winter ’18 earned a third place finish in the 1,650-meter freestyle, and Taylor Yamahata ’18 finished second in the 400-yard IM.

While the youngest members of the team made an impact with their top finishes, the team’s near-victory relied heavily on the upperclass members of the team, who also provided the women with a boost. Olivia Samson ’16, Kendese Nangle ’16 and Charlotte Kamai ’16 helped to bolster Dartmouth’s position on the scoreboard by adding three second place finishes for the Big Green, placing second in the 1,650-meter freestyle, 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard freestyle, respectively. Rebecca Butler ’15 added yet another second place finish to the team, placing in the 200-yard butterfly.

While the swimmers fared well against their three opponents, the women’s divers also came out with impressive showings. Fiona Weeks ’15 took second place in the 3-meter dive, and Kendall MacRae ’15 took the top spot in the 1-meter dive.

Going into the final events, the women’s team knew that they had a great chance of winning the dual matches, as well as an outside shot at beating Northeastern for the invitational title.

“You could just tell the emotion was there, and everyone was getting really amped for the finish,” MacArt said.

Tension continued to build towards the final race — the 400-yard freestyle relay would decide the winners of both the dual meet and invitational title.

Individual performances had mostly carried the team, but they would need a cooperative effort in the relay to win the overall meets. Winning the relay would not be enough to secure the invitational title. Northeastern would need to have a poor showing in the final race to lose its overall points lead.

The A relay team was led by MacArt, Samson, Kamai and Katie Altmayer ’18, and their teammates shouted encouragement from the side of the pool.

“We didn’t see that energy on Friday night,” MacArt said. “That energy gets your team to race fast, and makes it that much more fun to swim.”

The team swam a fantastic race, beating Northeastern’s A team by more than three seconds, securing the dual meet victory.

The effort was not enough to overcome the point differential in the invitational, however, as Northeastern maintained a one point advantage. Although the women were disappointed not to have won the invitational, coach Wilson kept an even perspective.

“Our goal was to win the dual meet,” he said. “The women have struggled a little this season, so to have them win the dual meet was important.”

There would be no such drama to speak of in the men’s competition, as they ran the competition out of the water, scoring 10 event victories on the way to winning both the dual meets and invitational title.

More impressive than their multiple first place finishes, however, was that the men set three pool records as well. David Harmon ’17 set the pool record in the 100-yard butterfly, while Ian Woon’s ’15 time of 45.90 clocked in at one one-hundredth of a second faster than the pool record for the 100-yard freestyle, adding a second record to the Big Green’s showing. Woon and Harmon would team up with James Verhagen ’16 and Jay Schulte ’15 to set another pool record, this time in the 200-yard medley relay.

The team had expected to perform well, but even they were surprised by their success in the pool.

“We expected to win,” said Harmon. “But we were a few guys down and expected it to be a little closer.”

Indeed, the team was missing several key contributors to injury, including Aaron Athanas ’16, yet they managed to overcome the absences and finish far ahead of their competitors.

Several other swimmers earned first place victories for the team, including Logan Briggs ’16 in the 400-yard IM, Zack Browne ’18 in the 1,650-yard freestyle and Verhagen in the 100-yard backstroke events. The Big Green swept the 200-yard freestyle, with Tony Shen ’18, Misha Tovmashenko ’18 and Bruno Korbar ’18 finishing in the top three spots, respectively.

In the diving competitions, Taylor Clough ’17 won the 1-meter, with Ryan Shelley ’15 and Brett Gillis ’16 rounding out the top three. The trio repeated their sweep in the 3-meter dive, although rearranging their order. Gillis finished first in the event, with Clough and Shelley in second and third, respectively.

“It was a pretty powerful atmosphere at the invitational,” said Harmon. “We were trying to psych ourselves up to race fast because the next two weekends are really tough.”

The men hope this victory will prove to a stepping stone for the next couple of weeks, as both the men and women will face stiffer competition hosting the University of Connecticut on Saturday and Columbia University on Sun. Feb. 8.