The men’s and women’s swim and dive squad had its last home dual meet this past Saturday, falling to U.S. Coast Guard Academy for a combined total of 358-236. The men’s loss amounted to 190-108 while the women were upended in a closer battle, 168-128. These numbers do not and cannot describe the emotional and moral victories that the Cardinals experience while swimming with tough competitors.
With individual victories across the board and improvements from many swimmers and divers, there will be little anger or disappointment after the loss. The Redbirds may have fallen in this battle, but the war of NESCACs is anything but lost. The seniors should be proud of the countless victories they’ve tallied and teammates they’ve inspired over the years.
Alex Kapphahn ’19 continues to impress, and against the Coast Guard, he put up victories on two fronts. He won the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 48.52, a second quicker than first-year opponent Peter Jackson. Kapphahn also took the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:45.41. Spencer Tang ’18 swam impressively in the 100 and 200-yard back with times 54.45 and 2:00.35, respectively.
“This weekend was a great meet for us,” Tang said. “Even though both the men and women’s team lost to Coast Guard, it was good way to rehearse each of our races before NESCACs. Great things will happen at NESCACs this year.”
True to Tang’s words, the Cards put up many other strong performances on both the men’s and women’s sides. Ethan Chupp ’18 won both the one and three-meter diving events with scores of 256.50 and 253.95, respectively. Noah Hamlish ’16 finished fifth in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 23.36, and Jacques Bazile ’16 landed fourth with a 1:02.45 in the 100-yard breast. Ali Pourmaleki ’18 had a solid performance, placing second in the 100-yard butterfly and 1000-yard freestyle, with times 53.51 and 10:08.89 respectively,
After such strong performances, Tang and the rest of his teammates have high hopes for each other and look to move up again in the rankings for consecutive years.
“Last year we moved up in the NESCAC rankings, this year we plan on doing it again,” he said.
For a women’s squad that lost a close battle, there were many results that lead to favorable predictions for the conference meet. One of these was the 400-yard freestyle relay featuring Serena Zalkowitz ’17, Zoe Kerrich ’18, Charlotte Pitts ’18, and Sophia Antonio ’19, which finished in a time of 3:45.56. Captain Liyan Yao ’16 swam several events and helped boost the team’s overall score, including third place finishes in the 200-yard IM and 200-yard backstroke, with times of 2:19.94 and 2:16.97, respectively. Julia Dietz ’19 placed first in the 100-yard back with a time of 1:02.12.
The Cardinals also performed admirably in the diving events, sporting top-three finishes in both diving events. Devon Cooper ’19 won with scores of 221.48 in the one-meter and 221.17 in the three-meter. Senior Carly Feinman scored a 209.4 in the three-meter event.
Luisa Chan ’18 had a close finish with a time of 1:09.65, a mere .08 seconds shy of first place in the 100-yard breast. Lauren Conte ’18 boasted second place finishes in the 500 and 1000-yard free with times 5:29.86 and 11:10.20, respectively.
Yao spoke with The Argus after swimming in her final home meet as a Cardinal.
“With it being the senior meet and my last home meet for Wesleyan, I, along with the rest of the seniors, were very emotional,” she said. “This meet was very sentimental for me because I’ve been swimming competitively for 14 years and I have one more meet left in my swimming career: NESCACs. Both the men’s and women’s teams share similar experiences: swimming competitively for years, being proud of a strong and constantly improving roster, and having all eyes set on NESCACs with a fervent drive.”
Yao also explained how the Cardinals will tackle the upcoming NESCAC championships.
“For the next two weeks leading up to NESCACs, we will be tapering, which is decreasing the amount of yardage we swim at practice, making sure we don’t physically exert ourselves too much outside of the pool, and trying to stay healthy so we’re in the best shape possible when we compete at NESCACs,” Yao said. “With this methodical, focused approach there is no doubt that the Cardinals will achieve excellence at NESCACs. Regardless of the future results, the seniors and the team should be proud of their hard work and performing at a high caliber these past few weeks.”
At the NESCAC Championships, the women will compete first at Middlebury College on February 12-14, with the men’s team following at Williams College on February 19-21.