As the spring semester ramps up and gets into full swing, Wesleyan’s swimming and diving season is winding down. This past weekend, the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams concluded their regular seasons, both going 1-2 on the weekend as they put a bow on what has been a trying regular season.
On Friday evening, the Dirty Birds faced off against the Camels from Conn. College. The women’s team put up an honorable fight with 10 top-three finishes. In the 200-yard medley, Caroline Murphy ’20, Z Kerrich ’18, Maela Whitcomb ’19, and Zoe Darmon ’21 placed second with an impressive time of 1:50.85. Whitcomb was also able to snag second-place finishes in both the 100 butterfly and 200 butterfly with times of 59.26 and 2:14.12, respectively. These feats were not enough, however, as the Lady Birds fell to the Camels by a score of 197-58.
The men’s team experienced similar misfortune against Conn. College as they were defeated 190-66. There were certainly some positives, as Phillip Wong ’21 placed second in the 400-yard individual medley with a time of 4:19.34 and second in the 100 backstroke with a time of 53.91. Alex Kapphahn ’19 was able to place second in the 100 butterfly with a respectable time of 52.77, while also earning third-place honors in the 200 freestyle with a 1:48.21 finish.
Saturday was Senior Day for the Red and Black athletes, who were rightfully honored for the unforgettable contributions to the program they have made over the past four years. The women’s team has a quartet of athletes that will be graduating this year: Lauren Conte, Kerrich, Emily Kessler, and Corrine Noonan. They all played a large role in helping the women’s team set the tone early, as they bested the Coast Guard Academy handily, 196-101. Caroline Murphy ’20 finished first in the 100-yard backstroke with an impressive time of 59.35 and was just 0.05 seconds from claiming first in the 100 freestyle. Meanwhile, teammate Hannah O’Halloran ’20 finished first in the 200 backstroke and Devon Cooper ’19 finished atop the competition in the 3-meter diving events and second in the 1-meter board. Later in the day, the women’s team would fall to Fairfield University 196-101 at the Wesleyan Natatorium.
The men’s team also honored their seniors, all eight of them: Ethan Chupp, Max Distler, Karl Ortegon, Peter Patapis, Ali Pourmaleki, Spencer Tang, Robbie Webster, and Aidan Winn. The results for the men in Saturday’s contests, like the women, were split. They defeated Fairfield University 151-135, but fell to the Coast Guard Academy 184-113. On the day, Wesleyan’s men’s team had an incredible seven first-place finishes by six different athletes. On his day of celebration, Tang racked up a pair of top finishes in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 53.01 as well as in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 1:57.69. Other first-place finishers included Quinn Tucker ’20 in the 200 freestyle (1:46.36), Alex Kapphahn ’19 in the 100 freestyle (47.38), Brandon Pearson ’19 in the 1-meter diving (266.00), Pourmaleki in the 200 butterfly (1:56.40), and Chupp in 3-meter diving (253.25).
With the regular season now officially over, the Cardinals have their sights set on excelling at the NESCAC Swimming and Diving Championships. The women’s team will compete in the NESCACs the weekend of Feb. 16-18 at Williams, while the men’s team will compete the following weekend, Feb. 23-25, at Bowdoin. From there, the NCAA Division III Zone Diving Qualifier will be held the first weekend in March up at Middlebury. If the Cardinals can perform exceedingly well, they will move on to the NCAA Division III Championship are held from Mar. 21-24 in Indianapolis.
“The swimmers and divers have progressed considerably since the start of our season,” Head Coach Peter Solomon said. “I am very pleased with the training and attitudes throughout the past three months and feel that we have positioned ourselves nicely heading into championship season. Wesleyan has a reputation of being a championship team, so I think we have a lot of other NESCAC programs looking over their shoulders wondering what we are about to do. Needless to say, the team and I are very excited to see for ourselves next week.”
As for the championships, Solomon is confident in the team’s ability to compete at high levels in the upcoming weeks.
“Championship season is where it all comes together. Getting to this point in the season includes a lot of hard work, early mornings, and challenging practices, both in the pool and in the weight room,” Solomon said. “There are a few detours along the way, as well as swimmers and divers deal with academic and personal responsibilities, but the moment that we step on the bus to head to NESCACs, everyone comes together for three days and a single mission. This year, Wesleyan has a chance to move up in the NESCAC rankings and beat a few schools that we haven’t beat in a few years. If things go according to plan, we hope to surprise a few schools in the coming weeks; particularly with some of our relays.”
Kelly Hogan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org