After beginning the winter season with a combined 0-4 dual meet record against NESCAC powerhouses Amherst and Bates, Wesleyan’s swimmers and divers looked for a spark heading into winter break when they faced in-state rivals U.S. Coast Guard, Connecticut College, Eastern Connecticut Sate University, and Trinity College at the 2015 Connecticut Cup this past weekend. The meet took place in the friendly waters of the Wesleyan Natatorium, and the men’s and women’s teams each put forth strong performances, finishing in 3rd and 2nd place respectively. Both teams would also place ahead of NESCAC rival Trinity for the second consecutive season.
“We swam really well against Bates in our first NESCAC competition, and this weekend with Conn and Trinity visiting we kept up the strong performances,” said butterfly and IM specialist Karl Ortegon ’18. “It’s a huge shift from last season, and everyone wants to contribute this year. Conn finished third at NESCACs last year and we ended up beating them in a relay and taking two individual events—that’s what we want to keep doing each meet, getting a few wins here and there and continuing to build ourselves up as a team. I’m incredibly proud of how we all swam this weekend and it only bodes well for the rest of this season.”
The men’s team set the tone for the meet early on by taking first place in the men’s 200 Medley Relay, posting a speedy 1:37.75 off of strong splits from Alex Kapphahn ’19, Jacques Bazile ’16, Spencer Tang ’18 and Ali Pourmaleki ’18. Kapphahn’s huge day was just getting started, however. The first-year finished first in both the 200 freestyle and the 100 backstroke, very nearly shattering a team record in the process. Pourmaleki took 3rd place in the 200 fly with a season-best 2:00.52, while Tang added 3rd place finishes in both the 50 and 100 backstroke. Wesleyan’s lone 2015 NCAA Championship qualifier Brandon Pearson ’18 also contributed significantly to the squad’s overall 3rd place finish, capturing first in the men’s 1 and 3-meter dives and earning a bid to the NCAA Regional Qualifying Championships at Wellesley College in the process. Fellow diver Ethan Chupp ’18 was also strong on the day for the Cards, posting a score of 260.30 in the 1-meter dive and finishing second behind Pearson.
“We swam well overall this weekend,” said senior newcomer Thomas Kim. “Beating Trinity is always nice and we had some really good swims against Conn and Coast Guard. Some of our guys won individual events. [Kapphahn] won the 200 free and our 200 medley relay beat out all of the other teams. Post-training trip and shaved and tapered, I think we can perform really well at NESCACS.”
Butterflyer Max Wimer ’19 shared much of his teammate’s enthusiasm regarding this weekend’s contest.
“The team swam quite well the past meet,” he said. “Kapphahn almost got a team record, and numerous other people got season best times. The future looks bright, especially if our relays continue to produce like they did [on Saturday]. We hope to finish the year out strong.”
The women’s team also started the meet out strong with a 2nd place finish in the 200 Medley Relay, profiting from impressive splits by Julia Dietz ’19, Luisa Chan ’18, Maela Whitcomb ’19 and Sophia Antonio ’19. Whitcomb also placed 2nd in the 200 backstroke with a solid 2:13.75, and Charlotte Pitts ’18 finished runner-up in the 50 fly. Cardinal divers Emily Kessler ’18, Devon Cooper ’19, Erin Angell ’19 and Carly Feinman ’16 swept the Women’s 1-meter dive, taking 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th on the podium respectively.
“The Connecticut Cup was a really fun meet,” said Lauren Conti ’18. “We enjoyed having the chance to race against all the the division three teams in Connecticut for the first time. Despite battling some injuries and sickness early on in the week, we came out strong against our competition and saw many season bests throughout the day. The team’s positive energy is at an all-time high, and it’s so exciting to see our hard work paying off. I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish this Friday as we go up against Tufts and WPI.”
Junior sprinter Serena Zalkowitz expanded on many of the themes touched on by her teammate.
“I thought the team competed really well this weekend, especially considering how long the meet lasted,” she concluded. “The meet was set up as a condensed version of the NESCAC championship schedule which means every event was swum, with a few exceptions. Everyone on the team swam 5 events and some even swam 6, so it was a long day for everyone. Nonetheless, we saw fast times throughout the entire meet, several of which were best in-season times. I swam a 56.41 in the 100 free which is the fastest I’ve been in-season so far so that is super exciting. Also the women’s 200 Medley Relay finished 2nd with a best time of the season. All the girls swam very fast in that relay, especially freestyle leg Sophia Antonio who went out a 25.15.”
Both teams will face conference rival Tufts and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute at home this coming Friday before heading into break.