In their home opener against a Little Three foe, the swim and dive teams fell to Amherst on Monday, Nov. 25 in their first home NESCAC meet of the season.
The men’s team dropped to 1-3 on the season, falling 104-70, although both the men’s and women’s scores were deceptively close; Amherst swam all exhibitions after securing the victory, meaning Amherst times do not count toward the overall score.
None of the Cardinals on the men’s side finished atop the scored races, although Billy Hepner ’16 turned in another strong performance in the 200-yard breaststroke, finishing in 2:14.7, just four-tenths of a second behind the winner, Amherst’s Nick Lafky.
Hepner led for the much of the first three laps, and on the turn heading into the final lap the two were dead even, their splits separating the men by just 0.02 seconds. Lafky pulled out the victory, but the race was nonetheless a highlight of the evening for the Cardinals.
Behind Hepner finished Spencer Daus-Haberle ’17 and Zach Carfi ’17, who came in third and fourth respectively with times of 2:16.78 and 2:17.24. The three underclassmen breaststrokers were the only trio to all earn points for Wes in the same event against Amherst.
Daus-Haberle enjoys sharing the pool with the other men he swims with in this event.
“Having teammates share the same events that I do is great,” he said. “After spending so many hours training together, it’s fun stepping up to race together and knowing that we have all earned our times. Having familiar faces in the water while racing always helps to add excitement and reassurance to a meet.”
Individual wins are an important place to put some focus, because team wins are tough to come by for a team of Wesleyan’s size. The team has just 17 men, including no divers, compared to Amherst’s 35-person squad.
Daus-Haberle was strongly encouraged by the results against Amherst.
“Despite the advantage that our rival had in numbers, we were able to pull together and create a supportive atmosphere for all the swimmers in the water,” the freshman said. “The team was able to maintain a strong attitude throughout the competition. At the end of the meet, our team was still cheering for all the relays despite an impending loss. This meet proved that having the right attitude can greatly shape a team’s performance and that Wesleyan definitely has that attitude.”
While the results of the strong team unity are not immediately tangible, Daus-Haberle says they will definitely come, sooner rather than later.
“Remaining unified is the best way to continue to improve throughout the season for the team as a whole,” he said. “The close-knit nature of the team is unique to our school, and it is important for us to emphasize it during the coming months.”
The women’s side of the pool found a moderately higher level of success against the Lord Jeffs, despite falling 109-85 in the partially-scored meet.
The 400 medley relay came in at second in the first race of the evening, posting a 4:07.6 finish behind very strong splits from backstroker Angela Slevin ’15 and freestyler Serena Zalkowitz ’17.
“I was very happy with how the medley relay did,” Slevin said. “Everyone’s splits were very good for this time of year.”
Coach Peter Solomon has shown much confidence in Zalkowitz; she is the lone underclassman on the Cardinals’ top relay team, which the Birds hope to send to Nationals this year. Zalkowitz also turned in a solid finish in her individual events, swimming the 100 free in 56.16, sixteen-tenths of a second off the winner, and the 50 free just six-tenths of a second of the winner.
Slevin had another strong meet herself, unexpectedly edging near the school record in the 400 individual medley, a rare feat to perform in season untapered. She finished second in the event at 4:38.57, less than two seconds behind last year’s National B-Cut. She also came within a second and a half of the B-Cut in the 200 back, winning the race with a time of 2.07:39.
Captain Roxy Capron ’14 had another solid performance in her lone individual event, completing the 200 breast in 2:29.85, good for second in the race. Fellow Cardinal Erin Cohn ’15 finished fourth in the event, two seconds behind Capron.
After the race, Slevin highlighted a similar atmosphere that Daus-Haberle did.
“I think the Amherst meet was a lot of fun because it was our first home meet and there was a lot of energy and excitement,” she said. “People really stepped up, and we had a lot of successful swims.”
The junior Academic All-American enjoys this style of meet, with longer events, more than shorter meets that feature lots of sprints.
“The team is usually better in the longer format with 200s as opposed to shorter meets, so going in I knew we could do some good stuff,” she said.
Both teams also competed the previous weekend, Saturday, Nov. 23 in lovely Lewiston, Maine against the local Bates Bobcats and the Trinity Bantams.
The women fell to Bates 218-81, and beat Trinity 149-145. The men fell to both the Bobcats and the Bantams.
Highlights of the meet for the men were a thrilling victory by Jimmy Gaston ’15 in the 1000 free, pulling out a victory by less than three-tenths of a second in his 10:20.64 race. He also came in first in the 500 free, comfortably finishing three seconds ahead of second place. Daus-Haberle and fellow first-year Nate Courville took the third and fourth spots in that event.
Wesley Ho ’15 grabbed the top spot in the 50 free, winning the race by just six-hundredths of a second.
Capron and Cohn once again battled for second place in the 50 breast, with the former edging the latter by half a second in the sprint.
Slevin swam the 500 free for the first time this year in that meet, setting a new personal record while finishing in the top spot by just seven hundredths of a second at 5:10.17.
Some swimmers from each squad will be heading to Cambridge, Mass. this weekend for an optional meet at the MIT Invitational before their two-week Christmas break starts.