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The Dartmouth
May 30, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Women’s swimming and diving team takes seventh at Ivy League Championship meet

This was the first Ivy League Championships the team has competed in since it was cut and subsequently reinstated.

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The Dartmouth women’s swimming and diving team attended the Ivy League Championship Feb. 16-19 at Harvard University’s Blodgett Pool in Cambridge, Mass. After four days of competition, the team finished in seventh place in what was the end of nine Big Green seniors’ Ivy League careers. 

On the first day of competition, the team scored 92 points, securing seventh place and narrowly edging out Cornell University by two points. Beginning with the 200-yard medley relay, the quad, composed of Connie Zhang ’22, Rachel Zhang ’24, Mary Howley ’25 and Zoe Wortzman ’22, finished eighth with a time of 1:44.54. In the second event of the afternoon — the 800-yard freestyle relay — the Big Green finished sixth with a time of 7:20.86. The relay was made up of Ashley Post ’22, Mia Leko ’22, Sophie Wiener ’25 and Wortzman. 

Head coach Jesse Moore said the seniors helped set the standard for the week. 

“They all came back ready to go and they led our underclassmen,” Moore said. “Since there were no sports last year, our freshman and sophomore classes didn’t have any collegiate experience and half of the team didn’t know what to expect.”

The Big Green posted similar results on day two of the meet as Dartmouth maintained its seventh place standing with a two-day total of 223 points. To begin the morning, Sarah Minnigh ’22 competed in the first individual race of the long weekend, finishing 19th with a time of 4:56.03 in the 500-yard freestyle. In the 200-yard IM B Final, Leko touched with a time of 2:02.48, securing 11th place for the team. Next in the pool was Wortzman, who took on the 50-yard free. The senior finished fifth with a time of 23.03, tallying 25 points for the Big Green. Post finished 10th in the B Final of the same event, touching the wall at 23.22. 

In the first diving event of the tournament, Isabella Lichen ’22 competed in the one-meter B Final, finishing in 10th place with a score of 261.85, beating her prelims score by nearly 17 points. To close out the day, Wortzman, Post, Wiener and Leko swam the 200-yard freestyle relay, finishing seventh with a time of 1:33.08. 

This was the first Ivy League Championship since Dartmouth suspended the swimming and diving program in July 2020. In January of 2021, the school reinstated the program, giving the team new life after a tumultuous year. The Ivy League Championship meet was canceled in  2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With athletes two years out of the pool, a brief period with no head coach and recruitment processes disrupted, the Big Green’s viability in last week’s competition was not inevitable. Nevertheless, the Big Green avoided a last place finish.

Wortzman said despite the troubles the program faced, she was ready to go. 

“From the second the team was (reinstated), I felt really ready to get right back into it and get to work. I definitely felt when the team was cut, that there was more I wanted to do in the pool, so I felt grateful for the opportunity.”

Post said the meet allowed her to spend quality time with her teammates after the reinstatement of the program.

“It was a great experience to be able to compete with the team especially because after being cut, we didn’t think we would have a senior Ivy meet,” Post said. “That was amazing to be able to spend the week with them.”

By the end of day two, the team found itself in seventh place, 31 points behind Brown University and 32 points ahead of Cornell. 

Day three of four was a busy day for the team, as 17 different athletes competed in eight events. The Big Green maintained its hold on seventh place, finishing the day with a total of 409 points. 

To begin the morning, Minnigh, Christina Cianciolo ’23 and Hayden Barry ’25 competed in the 1000 freestyle, finishing 11th (10:08.65), 14th (10:14.50) and 21st (10:41.50), respectively. The event secured the Big Green 33 points, and Minnigh saw a whopping 30-second improvement from her prelims time. Next, Bridget Parker ’23 raced in the C Final of the 400 IM, finishing 24th with a time of 4:40.15. Howley then competed in her first race of the day and finished 21st with a time of 55.42 in the 100-yard fly. In the A Final of the 200 freestyle, Post finished fourth with a time of 1:47.48. Leko and Wiener placed eighth and 19th in the same event with times of 1:49.29 and 1:52.36, respectively. In the 100-yard breaststroke C Final, Kenna van Steyn ’21 touched at 1:05.65 and Rachel Zhang followed, clocking in at 1:07.66. 

In the 100-yard backstroke, Howley completed her second event of the day, finishing 12th with a time of 55.76. Five Big Green athletes competed in the C Final of the same event, including Susannah Laster ’22 (56.31), Izzy Hamlen ’24 (56.76), Connie Zhang (57.50), Eleanor Zwart ’22 (58.15) and Katherine Kramer ’25 (58.67). In the final event of the day, Howley, Van Steyn, Leko and Post competed in the 400-yard medley relay, finishing in 3:45.35. 

The fourth and final day secured the Big Green seventh place (563 points) in the Ivy League Championship. Just one day after swimming in the 1000 freestyle, Minnigh, Cianciolo and Barry raced in the 1650 freestyle, finishing in eighth (16:48.35), 17th (17:11.28) and 23rd (17:54.27), respectively. Laster and Howley then competed in the 200-yard backstroke, with Laster touching 16th in just over two minutes (2:00.71) and Howley right behind her in 19th (2:01.77). In the A Final of the 100-yard freestyle, Post finished eighth, touching in 50.42 seconds. Wortzman finished 21st in the C Final with a time of 50.94. 

Next, in the 200-yard breaststroke C Final, Van Steyn and Parker finished 22nd (2:24.01) and 24th (2:25.27), respectively. Leko then finished sixth in the A Final for the 200-yard butterfly in 1:59.70. To conclude the diving events in the Championship, Lichen and Palacios competed in the 3-meter board. Lichen finished 26th with 213.20 points while Palacios finished 30th with 185.90 points. The final event of the meet was the 400-yard freestyle relay, in which Post, Leko, Howley and Wortzman teamed up for a 3:24.03 finish, earning them sixth place. 

Post said she had trouble swallowing the fact that this was her last meet.

“The whole meet, I was trying not to think about this being my last meet,” she said. “The last race, [Wortzman] was anchoring and we were really close to Cornell. It was awesome because she swam super hard and out-touched the Cornell girl and we beat them. She started crying right when we finished. It was a really cool experience.”

Wortzman said the final-touch emotion was a combination of excitement and exhaustion. 

“Finishing that race was a really cool feeling of definitely putting everything we had into that last race because we were exhausted,” she said. “It was such a blur.”

Harvard took first place with 1503.5 points, while Yale University and The University of Pennsylvania followed in second and third place, respectively. 

Coach Moore said he was proud of all of the obstacles the team has overcome this season. 

“There are so many different hurdles that they overcame, like adapting to a new head coach and new assistant coaches, swimming again and having to go through this in a world where we are living a year behind the rest of the country, as far as athletics,” Moore said. “They handled all of that really well and rose to the occasion.”

Due to the complications of the past few years, the seniors had not competed in the Ivy League Championship since the spring of their sophomore year, and competed in the Ivy League Championship with a small team with several walk-ons. 

“That group of nine [seniors has] been so supportive of this program and the underclassmen, and they worked really hard and led really well this year,” Moore said. “I feel like they laid a foundation that we can now build on top of and take this program forward in some pretty exciting directions.”

Wortzman said she is proud of everything the team accomplished in her last year. 

“I’m really proud of the team, especially the seniors, because it’s been a crazy couple of years for us, so sticking it through is a pretty cool feeling,” Wortzman said. “I’m really going to miss it.”