By EDEN LITTRELL ’14
Sports and Wellness Editor
The swimming and diving team is off to a strong start this year: they beat Clark University 169-120 and Simmons College 201-102 in dual-team meets, then lost to nationally ranked MIT 164-124 in a Nov. 22 dual-team meet.
“MIT is usually one or two at NEWMACs [New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference]. Our first year we came fifth. We never would have imagined getting that close to MIT. I think this is really going to be our year,” Captain Annie Hamilton ’14 said.
Wellesley won nine of the 16 events contested, with MIT’s depth giving them the points victory.
Keelin Nave ’14, Gabby Cooper-Vespa ’15, Leah Furman ’17 and Sarah May ’17 each won two events, with the ninth win coming from Blue’s 200-yard medley relay team. The team, consisting of Nave, Sharon Wu ’17, Charlotte Harris ’16 and Dorothy Ren ’16, is the first relay team from the Blue to win NEWMAC’s Women’s Relay Team of the Week.
The strong performance against MIT didn’t come out of nowhere. The team has morning practices five or six times a week, swimming around 6,000 yards each practice. They then do drill work and strength and conditioning during their own time, striving to get faster.
“This is the first year we’ve had straight morning practices. The team is paying attention to what they need to do. Our goal is for every single person to have a lifetime best,” Head Coach Bonnie Dix said.
Competition is just starting off. The swimming and diving regular season began in November and ends in February. The team still has eight more competitions, including Seven Sisters Championship and NEWMACs.
“Every time we get on the blocks is an opportunity to get better, to try something new,” Assistant Coach Carlos Vega said.
The team has a lot to look forward to, with a trip to Puerto Rico planned Dec. 30 through Jan. 6 before the team returns to Wellesley for the winter and two a day practices.
“It’s really nice to swim outside in Puerto Rico where most of our team bonding happens, and we have some epic snowball fights at Wellesley,” Hamilton said.
While two hard workouts every day in the middle of winter is a daunting prospect, the team is determined to make the most of their time.
“That’s what makes it fun, having the team suffer with you,” Captain Emma Mrkonic ’14 said.
Swimming and diving are two completely different sports. Diving is scored like just another swimming event, but has different forms of training. Despite this the two divers, Gabby Cooper-Vespa ’15 and Maddie Stern ’17, both made the choice to get up early every morning and train at the same time as the swimmers.
“That kind of commitment is why they’ll have a great season,” Dix said.
Unlike most of Wellesley’s sporting teams, swimming and diving is top heavy, with seven seniors and four first years.
“We have a huge senior class, only four first years, but all of them are spectacular. It’s a good thing to have the upperclasswomen setting the example,” Mrkonic said. “I think they’re going to keep going forward, getting faster and faster.”
Wellesley swimming and diving next competes at home on Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 7:00 p.m., against Tufts University.
Eden is a senior who does not have, nor desire, a twitter. She can frequently be seen at the KSC harassing hardworking coaches for quotes and training for the zombie apocalypse.