The swim and dive teams competed in the NESCAC Championships over the past two weekends, with the men going to Brunswick, ME and the women traveling to Williamstown, Mass. to compete in their final meets of the season.
The men traveled up to Bowdoin to compete in the Leroy-Greason Pool, where they took 10th of 11 teams.
Jacque Bazile ’16 earned points for Wes in his first swim of the meet in the breaststroke sprint, but saw a tough break when he came up just one spot short of a podium, finishing ninth in the preliminary round and keeping himself out of the top-eight championship race.
Billy Hepner ’16 also had some solid races for his team, taking 16th in the 200-yard individual medley before snagging 14th in the 100 breast, six-tenths of a second ahead of his teammate Bazile, who came in 16th. He then grabbed a 12-spot in the 200-yard breaststroke.
Erik Yan ’15 saw some nice improvement from the morning swim to the evening swim in the 50-yard butterfly, moving from 15th in the preliminary seeding round to 12th in the championship swim.
Perhaps the most impressive performances came from Jimmy Gaston ’15, who was swimming in his first NESCAC Championships since transferring to Wes after a series of surgeries prevented him from swimming the past few seasons. Gaston had the Wesleyan men’s only B-cut of the meet, when he swam the 200 fly in 1:53.85. The B-cut qualifies swimmers for Academic All-American, and gives them a chance to be chosen for Nationals. Additionally, Gaston put his name in the Wesleyan record books for the first time in his career, establishing a new standard for the 200 butterfly. Gaston also took 13th in the 200-yard free race earlier in the meet.
Though the Wesleyan men might have hoped for a higher finish, this season’s results certainly bode well for the team in the future. Individual meet wins over Trinity and Brandeis highlight some strong races for the Cards, who took a big step forward in NESCACs after finishing in last place two years in a row before improving to 10th last year. The Birds were just 11.5 points behind Colby for ninth place, where they will surely set their sights higher next season, with a strong recruiting class lighting the way for a bright future for the team. The Cards will graduate just one senior this year, Russell Madison.
The women were on the deck a week earlier, battling both a blizzard and the other 10 teams in the NESCAC en route to their second eighth-place finish in as many years.
Angela Slevin ’15 led the way for the Cards, boasting a plethora of accolades by the time the meet was over. Coming into the race, she held three individual and four relay school records, and she added her name to the record books two more times with a 4:32.15 in the individual medley and a 17:12.09 in the mile swim. Those times were good enough for third and second place, respectively. She also had a second-place finish in the 500 freestyle, at 4:59.87, giving her a trio of All-NESCAC honors, the first of her career.
Slevin added a fourth B-cut in the 200-yard backstroke, although she didn’t swim in the final of that race because she had maxed out at three individual events. Slevin credited team spirit as a major source of the team’s success.
“I think we went into the meet with a lot of Cardinal Pride, and rode that energy all weekend long,” she said.
In the last meet of her college career, Roxy Capron ’14 went out with a bang, taking top-eight finishes in all three of her individual races—the three breaststroke events. Capron took fifth in the 50, seventh in the 100, and eighth in the 200.
Capron and Alyssa Savarino ’14 graduate this year holding two relay school records, as parts of the 200 and 400 medley relay teams that set the Wesleyan best times last year.
Rounding out the top-eight individual finishers for the Birds was Rachel Hirsch ’15, who finished in eighth place in the 50 breast, capping off a solid season shortened due to a semester abroad last fall.
Wesleyan saw some beautiful relay times emerge, first in the eight-place 200-yard free relay with Slevin, Capron, Liz Baumgartner ’15 and Serena Zalkowitz ’17 teaming up. They then took fifth in the 400-yard medley relay, with Savarino replacing Baumgartner in that foursome.
Slevin, with her times in the 1,650- and 500-meter freestyle swims, will become the first Wesleyan All-American since 2008. She’ll head to Nationals in Indianapolis, IN during the second week of spring break and compete in those two events plus the 200 freestyle.
“A lot of girls over the past few years have been close to Nationals; Cara [Colker-Eybel ’13] came extremely close,” Slevin said. “I’ve been lucky enough to be working with Coach Peter Solomon for two years now, and it’s just very exciting for the program. Looking forward, we hope to get more girls there, especially with relay teams, so it’s just a big step forward for the program.”
The Indiana University pool is known for being a particularly fast pool, thanks to consistently high water temperatures, properly designed gutters, and how deep the water is.
“I’m very excited for Nationals, to see what I can do after a few more weeks of training,” Slevin said. “Mostly, though, I’m just really excited to compete at the Indianapolis facility, where they hold Division I Nationals and Olympic trials. It’ll be a really fast meet so it’ll be really fun to compete against all these incredible athletes.”
The All-American enters the meet ranked 16th in the mile and 20th in the 500, but anticipates being able to improve on her qualifying times with consistent training over the next few weeks.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to drop my times for Nationals,” Slevin said. “We’ve started more high-volume training and added in the dryland strength training, so in the next couple weeks I’ll be able to taper back down from that before the meet.”
The team is losing some high-character, highly-competitive seniors to graduation this spring.
“All three graduating seniors are good friends, we’re going to miss them,” Slevin said. “All of them add a lot to the team. Kate Uthe has the best work ethic of anyone I’ve had the chance to swim with; she’s so dedicated and it’s really inspiring. I’ve loved being able to train distance with her, I’m really going to miss her. Alyssa is an incredible competitor, which is so good for the relays, and when we get to the meets she just has so much energy and adds so much.”
Slevin said Capron, in addition to her clear athletic talent, brought great spirit to the pond with her.
“Roxy, as well, is such a good competitor, but what Roxy has taught me the most is to just have fun with it,” Slevin said. “She’s always making me laugh on deck, even when we’re nervous or anxious, and her being able to make everyone happy and put a smile on their face is really awesome.”
This team has high hopes for the upcoming season. After finishing 6-6 in dual meets, the women hope that an infusion of young talent next year will help them in their goal to improve upon their eighth-place finish.
“Obviously we’re graduating a few girls who’ve made some significant contributions, but we have a big group of girls coming in already next year from Early Decision and ED2,” Slevin said. “Hopefully, with the success we have had this year, we can go into preseason next year building off what we’ve done. Beating teams like Tufts this year was really inspiring because we’re such a small team, and we have a lot of potential to do a lot of damage next year.”