Wesleyan swimming and diving has officially returned to the pool for the 2011-2012 season, facing off against Bates on Saturday, Nov. 19 and Amherst on Monday, Nov. 21. While both of those dual meets ended in steep losses for the Cardinal men (138-54 against Bates, 194-42 against Amherst) and women (124-69 against Bates, 184-46 against Amherst), enthusiasm still abounds on the pool deck. Perhaps that says more about this year’s squad than the scoreboard ever could.
Indeed, Wesleyan’s aquatic Cardinals have many reasons for high spirits this season, in spite of the outcomes of the first two meets. Bates is a team of considerable size and depth this year, while Amherst is historically one of the elite Division III swim teams in the country; this season, the Lord Jeffs are ranked fourth nationally, and the Lady Jeffs are ranked seventh.
While Wesleyan’s team is notably smaller than those of Bates, Amherst, and many of their other NESCAC competitors, the Cards are approaching this winter with a newfound sense of dedication. This is due in large part to interim head coach Frank Keefe. Keefe has worked as a U.S. Olympic and Pan-American coach, and was the head coach at Yale for 32 years.
Besides Keefe, strong leadership trickles down to the athletes themselves. Co-captains Momo Saleh ’12 and Nick Huston ’13 are leading a men’s team composed of five first years and 11 returners, five of whom scored points in the 2011 NESCAC Championships. For the women, co-captains Julia Fram ’12 and Emily Goettsche ’12 are heading a team of eight newcomers and 14 returners, seven of whom scored at NESCACs.
Notable swims from the first weekend of competition came from Angela Slevin ’15, Rachel Hirsch ’15, and Elizabeth Baumgartner ’15, who won the 100-yard backstroke, breaststroke, and 200-yard individual medley at Bates, respectively. Against Amherst, Slevin and Alyssa Savarino ’14 turned in impressive performances again, finishing second in the 200-yard backstroke and 50-yard freestyle, respectively. For the men, Brendan Fortin ’13 finished second in the 200-yard butterfly.
The Cardinals look forward to finding their first win this weekend, as they play host to NESCAC rivals Hamilton and Trinity in addition to non-conference competitors Worcester Polytechnic Instutute and Clark University.