Last Sunday, the Wellesley College swimming and diving team wrapped up an impressive four-day performance at the NEWMAC Championship meet hosted by Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). The Blue finished third in a field of 10, tallying 751 total points to hold off fourth -place WPI by 47. Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ran away with their fifth consecutive NEWMAC title, outpacing runner-up Springfield and the rest of the competition by over 400 points.
The meet kicked off on Thursday night with the 800- yard freestyle relay, in which Wellesley recorded a third- place finish to trail leading MIT by just 12 points. The next three days of competition consisted of trial heats in the morning sessions, followed by final heats in the evenings.
The Blue posted top-ten finishes in each of Friday night’s finals to maintain its third-place standing after day two. Leading the charge was Maura Sticco-Ivins ’18, whose victory in the three-meter dive with a score of 500.50 earned the Blue 24 points. Wellesley also saw strong performances from Leah Furman ’17, who placed fifth in 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:05.73, and Dorothy Ren ’16, whose time of 2:09.48 in the 200 individual medley (IM) put her in fourth place. The Blue closed out the night’s events with an exciting third-place finish in the 400-yard medley relay as Charlotte Harris ’16, Hannah Augst ’17, Ren and Furman edged out fourth- place Wheaton by less than three seconds.
Wellesley’s momentum carried into Saturday night’s finals, which featured five top-five finishes, leaving the Blue just 61 points behind Springfield by the night’s close. Pacing the Blue was Ren, who collected three top-three finishes, earning third in the 100-yard butterfly, second in the 100-yard backstroke and helping Wellesley’s 200-yard medley relay team with Sharon Wu ’17, Augst and Harris to a second-place finish.
“I love the 200 medley relay. It is absolutely, hands down, my favorite race because not only is it a relay, which means three of my teammates swim it with me, but it also involves swimming a 50 of each stroke, which is not a competitive race. It doesn’t hurt that we also swam to an NCAA qualifying cut either!” Ren said.
Adding to Wellesley’s top placings were Furman, who took second in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:53.76, and Harris, who clocked 1:06.69 in the 100-yard breaststroke for fifth place.
In the final day of NEWMAC competition, the Blue claimed three top-two finishes to solidify their third-place position in the field. With the three-meter title under her belt, Sticco-Ivins went on to win the one-meter dive, recording Wellesley’s only pair of victories and earning the honor of NEWMAC Women’s Diver of the Year. Sarah May ’17 also left the meet on a high note, capturing a second-place finish in the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 2:08.78, just 0:00.59 seconds behind MIT’s Teresa de Figueiredo.
Although the Blue has claimed third place for the past four years, this season’s finish was historic, reflecting the dedication and hard work of each member. “The biggest goal this weekend was to have fun, and trust in our training. A bonus would have been beating Springfield, and I would say we were the closest to that goal than we have been in my four years here. We were within less than 100 points, the closest margin that I remember,” tri-captain Tiffany Chen ’15 said.
In fact, in last season’s NEWMAC Championship, the Blue fell behind Springfield by 330.5 points, almost four times this year’s deficit. Wellesley’s success in closing this margin can be greatly accredited to the team’s mental resilience and approach during the long and packed meet.
“[The NEWMAC Championships are] difficult because it is seven sessions of swimming over four days… Succeeding at this meet is really about mental toughness and positive attitudes,” May said. “NEWMACs is also exciting because of the energy present in the natatorium. Everyone arrives shaved, tapered and excited to swim fast. For some people, it is the last meet they will ever compete in. The atmosphere promotes some really fast swimming, and it is so much fun to be a part of that.”
Four of Wellesley’s divers will extend their season into next weekend’s NCAA Diving Regionals, and qualified individuals will move on to the NCAA Championships next month.
Photo Courtesy of Pamela Wang ’17