HADLEY, Mass. - Williams looks to capture its third consecutive conference title and 15th overall title when the 2016 NESCAC Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships begin on Friday, February 12, with preliminary heats in the morning followed by championship events in the evening. This year’s three-day championship will take place at the Middlebury Natatorium.
Competition will get underway each day with preliminary heats at 10 a.m. Finals will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, 5:50 p.m. on Saturday and 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $8 per session or $45 for an all-session pass for adults and $3 per session for children and students. Doors will open 60 minutes prior to the preliminaries and finals. Live webcasts and results from the NESCAC Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships will be available throughout the weekend at nescac.com.
Williams successfully defended its NESCAC title in 2015 by swimming away from the competition after amassing a conference-record 2,103.5 points. Bates recorded a program-best second place finish after tallying 1,345 points. Middlebury landed in third place with 1,203 points followed by Amherst in fourth place (1,042). Bowdoin turned in a school-record 932.5 points for fifth place, which was the best finish in program history. Connecticut College placed sixth (839) followed by Tufts (795) and Wesleyan (578.5) in seventh and eighth, respectively. Colby (448.5), Hamilton (435) and Trinity (355) rounded out the final team standings.
Amherst senior Emily Hyde (Clinton, N.Y.) looks to cap off her collegiate career by finishing as four-time event champion in the 200 breaststroke and third-time champion in the 100 breaststroke. She enters both events with the top time, but will face tough competition. Hyde aims to regain championship form in the 200 individual medley, an event she won in 2013 and 2014, before Williams sophomore Emma Waddell (Bangor, Maine) touched the wall first last year. Waddell heads to Middlebury as the defending champion in the 100 freestyle, where she will contend with 2014 champion Faye Sultan (Abu Hasaniya, Kuwait), a senior from Williams, and Bates sophomore Logan McGill (Dallas, Texas), who boasts the top time this season. McGill also enters the 50 freestyle as the defending champion and the top seed.
Senior Sarah Conklin (Newton, Mass.) of Amherst also hopes to end up as a four-time event champion in the 50 butterfly, as she holds the third-best time behind Williams first-year Maia Hare (New York, N.Y.) and Waddell. Conklin is hoping to return to the top of the podium in the 100 and 200 butterfly. She won the 100 butterfly in 2013 and 2014 before Waddell, the owner of this season’s top time, won the event in 2015. In order for Conklin to capture first in 200 butterfly like she did in 2013, she will have to defeat two-time defending champion Megan Pierce (Wayland, Mass.) of Williams. The junior travels to Vermont looking to sweep the 200 and 400 individual medleys, as she possesses the events’ fastest times and is the back-to-back champion in the 400 individual medley.
The backstroke events will be hotly contested between a trio of returning champions. Bates senior Whitney Paine (Moultonborough, N.H.) aims to repeat as the 50 backstroke champion, and is seeded just behind Williams senior Katherine Bennett (Arlington, Va.), who won the 200 backstroke in 2014. Paine owns the top mark in the 100 backstroke, but will contend with Bennett and defending 100 and 200 backstroke champion junior Olivia Jackson (Darien, Conn.) of Williams.
Other returning champions include Connecticut College junior Valerie Urban (Lancaster, Pa.) in the 1,000 freestyle and Williams junior Ariana Ross (New Canaan, Conn.) on the 1-meter and 3-meter diving boards.
New event champions will be crowned in the 200, 500 and 1,650 freestyles following the graduation of two-time NESCAC Swimmer of the Meet and Four-Year High Point Swimmer Sarah Thompson from Williams. A fresh face will also win the 50 breaststroke due to the graduation of four-time event winner Jamie Hillas of Middlebury.
Williams, which swept all five relay events last year and posted four new meet records in the process, has the top times in the 400 and 800 freestyle relays and the 200 medley relay. Bates holds the quickest time in the 200 freestyle relay, while Amherst owns the best mark in the 400 medley relay.
# - NESCAC Meet Record