Julianne Jones ’26 has etched her name into the swimming team’s history books. At the annual Tate Ramsden Invitational hosted by Dartmouth, Jones dominated, breaking two meet records in the 400 individual medley and the 200 breaststroke, which also set a pool record.
Jones also had a noteworthy performance at the Miami Invitational, where she finished third in the 200 breaststroke and set a program record of 4:16:66 in the 400 individual medley. This performance met the standard for the NCAA B cuts, which means Jones will have the opportunity to qualify for the NCAA Division 1 championship meet.
For Jones, this race in particular was a confidence booster.
“The 4 IM at midseason [was my favorite performance] just because I really had no idea how the season was going to go,” Jones said. “That race finally told me that the season can go places that I never thought that it could.”
Every year, the NCAA sets two standards at each event that serve as the qualification times for the National tournament. The “A” standard merits an instant qualification, while the “B” standard enters swimmers into a pool to be selected. So, while Jones has not yet secured her position in the NCAA meet, she has joined an elite cohort of swimmers that may be invited to the NCAA tournament in late March.
Qualifying for the National tournament came as quite a shock for Jones.
“I definitely remember my dad talking to me about NCAA cuts and all that in high school, but I sort of blew it off,” Jones said. “I really didn’t think that I would ever get to that point.”
As it stands, Jones and her stellar season are distinguishing her as a star not just at Dartmouth but by league-wide standards. Women’s swim and dive head coach Milana Socha spoke to Jones’s ability in the pool.
“[Jones] has a great feel for the water,” Socha said. “She’s a very consistent swimmer in terms of her training and her focus.”
Since breaking records, Jones has continued to perform well, winning first in the 200 IM with a time of 2:03.62 against Columbia University on Jan. 27.
Jones’s father, Eben Jones ’82, a men’s swim and dive alumnus, explained that his daughter’s self-discipline and drive are what set her apart.
“She just really wants to do better than herself,” he said.
Teammate Sydney Rawie ’26 echoed this sentiment.
“[Jones] is also very technically focused; she is always trying to improve her stroke,” Rawie said.
Jones showed her first glimpse of swimming prowess at just six years old, according to her father. In high school, Jones’s ability garnered national attention from universities in the Big Ten, the Pac-12 and the Ivy League, to name a few.
“As a sophomore [in high school], she had exploded, and she’d become a national caliber swimmer,” Eben Jones said.
Jones is the third in her extended family to swim for Dartmouth. Both her father and her uncle swam for Dartmouth’s swim team in the 1980s.
“My brother was a better swimmer [than me],” Eben Jones joked. “And Julianne is a better swimmer than either one of us.”
Jones said following in her father’s footsteps gives her a unique sense of place and comfort.
“I would definitely say I think about [my father ] sometimes, especially when things get really hard.” Jones said. “I think it’s nice to think about how I know someone who came out on the other side and came out with such a love for the sport and for the team. My dad is just such a huge supporter of the team still, and I see myself being like that one day.”
According to Jones, it didn’t all come easy. When she began her collegiate swimming career as a first-year, the 2022-23 women’s swim and dive team had only 14 athletes, seven of whom were first-years as well. This was due to the cancellation and reinstatement of the swimming and diving program during COVID-19.
Despite these challenges, Socha said Jones grew significantly as a swimmer in her first year, and that growth has continued in her second year.
“[She had] so much more coach attention and focus than [she was] used to from club … and I think she felt a lot of pressure last year to perform,” Socha said. “I think this year, part of the reason she’s been able to elevate her performances … is because she’s been able to grow from that and shift her focus to the team.”
Jones reflected on her growth as a swimmer and gaining confidence. .
“Coming in this year, I just knew that I needed to be a lot less stressed out and really needed to try and have fun with it,” she said. “I think sometimes I forgot to take a deep breath [last year].”
Jones has extended her efforts to aiding her newest teammates, hoping that she can ease them into life as student athletes at Dartmouth.
Rawie noted that Jones is “very empathetic and supportive” of the team and helps to foster a strong sense of camaraderie.
“[Jones] is certainly an invaluable member of the team,” Socha said. “I think every single one of her women’s teammates would say the same, regardless of what her athletic performance is — I think that that speaks volumes as well.”