HADLEY, Mass. – The Amherst women's swimming and diving team will travel to Middletown, Connecticut to compete in the 2019 NESCAC Women's Swimming and Diving Championships which begins on Thursday, February 14 starting with the 800 freestyle relay at 7:00 PM. The championships have moved to a four-day format this year by shifting the 800 freestyle relay to Thursday as the only event on the night.
The Wesleyan Natatorium on the campus of Wesleyan University will serve as the host for the 24 events over the four days. Competitions on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday will begin with preliminary heats at 10:00 AM. Finals are scheduled for 6:00 PM on Friday, 5:50 PM on Saturday, and 5:30 PM on Sunday.
All tickets will be sold at the door. Tickets for Thursday evening's session are $5 for adults and $3 for children and students. Tickets for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are $8 per session for adults and $3 per session for children and students. Doors will open 60 minutes prior to the preliminaries and finals.
A live webcast will be available at NESCAC.com and on Roku, AppleTV, and Amazon Fire (search NESCAC Network). Results from the NESCAC Women's Swimming and Diving Championships will be available throughout the weekend at NESCAC.com and via the NESCAC Twitter account (@NESCAC).
SETTING THE SCENE
Heading into the 2019 NESCAC Championship, 13 champions return to the pool and 45 of the top three finishers in the 24 events are making a repeat appearance at the championship. Amherst notched a second place finish in last year's championship, posting a total of 1,615 points.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
The Mammoths opened their 2018-19 campaign with a three-meet win streak, topping Colby College (168-123), Wesleyan University (165-120), and Middlebury College (227-73) before the winter break. Amherst opened 2019 against Williams College, falling by a margin of 184-110 on January 5th.
After the setback, the Purple & White answered with back-to-back wins over Connecticut College and Union College before facing Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Mammoths matched the Engineers, 149-149, to mark their first tie in well over a decade before rounding out their season with an impressive 174-102 win over the Springfield College Pride.
Ingrid Shu '20, a 2017 NESCAC Champion, has potential to earn a second title in the 50 freestyle. Natalie Rumpelt '20 owns the best time in the 100 freestyle this season while Jayne Vogelzang '21 holds the fastest time in the 1,650. Bridgette Kwong '19 is among the leaders in the 200 backstroke while Katie Smith '19 returns to the 50 breaststroke with a third place finish in last season's venture. Nina Fitzgerald '21 will compete in both the 50 and 100 breaststroke this championship after a third-place finish in the 100 last season. Lindsey Ruderman '21 won both diving events last season as a rookie and will look to defend her titles this weekend while Mammoth Jackie Palermo '19 enters the championship ranked second in the 3-meter competition and third on the 1-meter board.
SCOUTING THE CONFERENCE
The five-time defending NESCAC Champion Williams women's swimming and diving team looks to earn its 18th overall conference title after claiming last year's championship with 1,971 total points.
The Tufts duo of junior Brooke Bernstein (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and first-year Hannah Spencer (Centerport, N.Y.) are leading contenders for a first-place finish in the 50 freestyle while Middlebury junior Frances VanderMeer (Elmira, N.Y.), last year's runner-up, also returns to the field.
Rumpelt will be challenged by sophomores Maddie Ford (Acton, Mass.) of Connecticut College and Laura Westphal (Northville, Mich.) of Williams in the 100 freestyle. Westphal was the 2018 NESCAC Rookie of the Year. In the 200 freestyle, the first, second and third-place finishers from last year all return to the pool. Westphal is the defending NESCAC Champion, but Rumpelt leads the field with the top time this season. Bowdoin senior Sterling Dixon (New York, N.Y.) will also make a push for the top spot on the podium.
Tufts sophomore Sook-hee Evans (Newtown, Pa.) will also challenge Vogelzang in the distance freestyle events. Williams senior Alison McNamara (Tappan, N.Y.) is the three-time defending champion in the 1,000 freestyle, but sophomore teammate Molly Craig (Mansfield, Pa.) enters the event with the top time, while Vogelzang and Williams sophomore Casey Delano (Milton, Mass.) are seeded second and third, respectively. Westphal, Craig, and Evans are the leading swimmers heading into the 500 freestyle race.
Wesleyan junior Caroline Murphy (Gardiner, N.Y.) looks to three-peat as the NESCAC Champion in the 50 backstroke. Murphy's competition includes VanderMeer, who owns the fastest time this season, and Connecticut College senior Maeve Wilber (New Marlborough, Mass.), last year's runner-up. Murphy is also the defending champion in the 100 backstroke. Bowdoin junior Marshall Lowery (Arundel, Maine), a runner-up last year, returns to the field and owns the top time entering the event. Williams junior Caroline Conforti (Slingerlands, N.Y.), a third-place finisher last season, also returns to the field. Tufts junior Grace Goetcheus (Kensington, Md.) and Wilber also have potential to compete for a spot on the podium.
The reigning champions in the 50 and 100 butterfly events have moved on, however, Bates sophomore Caroline Apathy (Devon, Pa.), the runner-up in both events last season, returns. Williams senior Maia Hare (New York, N.Y.) enters the championship with the fastest time in the 50 butterfly and will be challenged by Tufts sophomore Sasha Fong (Santa Rosa, Calif.). Fong is a top contender in the 100 butterfly with Bowdoin sophomore Mary Laurita (Mendham, N.J.) also looking to claim the title. Eph swimmers swept the 200 butterfly and all three competitors - Veronica Wolff (McLean, Va.), Madeleine Deardorff (Princeton, N.J.), and Craig - return this season. Craig has posted the fastest time entering the event this year. Tufts sophomore Abby Claus (Summit, N.J.) and Deardorff round out the top three seeds.
Tufts sophomore Amber Chong (Issaquah, Wash.) leads the divers on the 1-meter board, while Bowdoin senior Rebecca Stern (Northfield, Ill.) the third-place finisher in the 3-meter a year ago, also returns for her final NESCAC Championship.
Williams has won every relay race over the past four championships. However, Tufts has posted the fastest times in the 200 and 800 freestyle, while Amherst owns the top time in the 400 freestyle. The Jumbos are also the top ranked team heading into the 200 medley relay, while the Ephs lead the field in the 400 medley relay.