HADLEY, Mass. - The Williams women’s swimming and diving team, the three-time defending NESCAC Champion, aims to capture its 16th overall conference title when the 2017 NESCAC Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships begin on Friday, February 10, with preliminary heats in the morning followed by championship races in the evening. This year’s three-day championship will take place at Greason Pool on the campus of Bowdoin College.
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 for adults and $3 per session for children and students. Doors will open 60 minutes prior to the preliminaries and finals. No pre-sale tickets will be available, as all tickets will be sold at the door. Live webcasts and results from the NESCAC Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships will be available throughout the weekend at nescac.com. The webcast will be available at www.nsnsports.net/conferences/nescac/.
Williams outdistanced the field with 2,045 points to win its third straight NESCAC title in 2016. Amherst (1,343) edged Bates (1,317.5) to finish second, while Middlebury (1,090.5) and Connecticut College (1,013) rounded out the top five. Bowdoin placed sixth (959) followed by Tufts (720) and Wesleyan (546) in seventh and eighth, respectively. Hamilton (470), Colby (402) and Trinity (247) rounded out the final team standings.
Williams junior Emma Waddell (Bangor, Maine) is the two-time defending champion in the 100 freestyle and holds the top time in the event heading into this year’s championship. She also owns the fastest time in the 50 freestyle, but four rookies are set to challenge her for first place, led by Amherst rookie Ingrid Shu (Montville, N.J.). In the 100, Waddell’s competition includes first-year Natalie Rumpelt (Loudonville, N.Y.) of Amherst and Bowdoin sophomore Sterling Dixon (New York, N.Y.). In the 200 freestyle, senior Lauren Jones (Frisco, Texas) of Williams has posted the fastest time of the year followed by Rumpelt and Dixon.
In the distance freestyle events, senior Megan Pierce (Wayland, Mass.) of Williams holds the top time in the 500, 1,000 and 1,650. She is the defending champion in the 1,650 after setting a NESCAC record in the event last year. The field for the 1,000 freestyle is highlighted by a pair of former champions. Senior Valerie Urban (Lancaster, Pa.) of Connecticut College won the title in 2015, while sophomore Alison McNamara (Tappan, N.Y.) of Williams captured the title last season. Both rank 1-2 with the fastest times of the season. Urban and McNamara will push Pierce in the battle for first place in the 1,650 as both own the second and third fastest time in the event.
The 50 backstroke has had three different winners in the last three years, and 2017 will mark a fourth with three rookies owning the top three times in the event heading into the meet. Caroline Conforti (Slingerlands, N.Y.) of Williams, Frances VanderMeer (Elmira, N.Y.) of Middlebury and Caroline Murphy (Gardiner, N.Y.) of Wesleyan rank 1-2-3 and the top five spots are held by first-year swimmers. Olivia Jackson (Darien, Conn.) of Williams has won the past two titles in the 100 and owns the fastest time of the year in the event as she goes for her third championship. Jackson also won the NESCAC crown in the 200 in 2015. She will be challenged by a pair of rookies in the 100 backstroke. Conforti and Bowdoin rookie Marshall Lowery (Arundel, Maine) round out the top three swimmers in the event. In the 200, Amherst sophomore Bridgitte Kwong (Hong Kong) and senior Sara Daher (Marblehead, Mass.) of Bates could contend with Jackson for a title.
Rookies Mary Erb (Readfield, Maine) of Connecticut College and Caroline White (Winter Park, Fla.) of Williams have been dueling all season for the fastest times in all three breaststroke events. Erb holds the top time in the 50 breaststroke, while White owns the quickest times in the 100 and 200. Junior Mariah Rawding (White Salmon, Wash.) of Bowdoin is the defending champion in the 50 and will look to defend her title at her home pool. Amherst’s Emily Hyde won the 100 and 200 multiple times in her career, but has graduated, leaving Erb and White to contend for the championship.
In the butterfly events, Waddell is the two-time defending champion in the 100. She set new NESCAC marks in back-to-back championships in 2015 and 2016. She enters this year’s meet with the second fastest time of the season. Bates rookie Janika Ho (Los Angeles, Calif.) has been the fastest in the event this season. Waddell will also swim in the 50 butterfly and has registered the top time this season among the field. A new champion will be crowned in the 50 after Amherst’s Sarah Conklin dominated the event, winning the last four titles. Pierce of Williams looks to make it four straight wins in the 200 butterfly, but teammate and first-year swimmer Veronica Wolff (McLean, Va.) owns the fastest time of the year heading into the championship.
On the diving boards, Williams senior Ariana Ross (New Canaan, Conn.) is the two-time defending champion. The 2015 and 2016 NESCAC Diver of the Year, posted marks of 434.50 points on the 1-meter board and 485.40 on the 3-meter board to win the events last season. Senior Emma Jarczyk (Sudbury, Mass.) of Bates leads the field of divers on both boards heading into the 2017 championship.
Williams owns the top times in four of the five relays heading into the championship, while Amherst holds the fastest time in the 200 freestyle relay. The Ephs have won every relay race over the past two championships and will look to earn their fourth straight win in the 200, 400 and 800 freestyle events. Williams set new NESCAC records in the 800 freestyle and both medley relay races last season.
* - NESCAC record
# - NESCAC Meet Record