Last weekend the women’s swimming and diving team competed in the NESCAC Championship at Wesleyan. The Polar Bears placed seventh, failing to score as many points as in years past after challenges throughout the season.
“I think we’re missing some of the depth [we’ve had in years past],” said Head Coach Brad Burnham. “While we had some women … winning events and finishing in the top three, we just didn’t see as many people scoring.”
Scoring was also impacted by an injury to one of the divers who was sidelined for the entirety of the weekend. Fellow divers Thea Kelsey ’20 and Rebecca Stern ’19 went on to place in the top eight.
Expectations going into the championship were high; the Polar Bears defeated every NESCAC competitor they faced in dual meets over the course of the year.
“It wasn’t our greatest performance,” Burnham said. “But I really appreciated the way that the women kept their focus on improving and doing the best they could, [given] where they were [at] physically.”
Burnham also recognized the result was not solely a result of athlete performance.
“Certainly a lot of the performance problems were … things that I need to improve,” he said. “I certainly came out of the meet realizing that as a coaching staff, we have to get a lot better.”
Even with a disappointing end, most swimmers had a positive outlook on the NESCAC Championship.
“I think the vibe of NESCACs is pretty awesome,” said Sterling Dixon ’19. “By the end of the meet, I think people were just happy with their individual swims. And even if they didn’t do as well as they wanted, we all definitely had a really good time.”
Dixon swam a 2:02:07 in the 200 m butterfly for a new school record. The team of Dixon, Marshall Lowery ’20, Amanda Banasiak ’20 and Mary Laurita ’21 also earned a school record in the timed trials of the 200 m freestyle relay.
According to Laurita, the disappointing team result, despite impressive times, is reflective of a new trend in the NESCAC.
“I almost feel like the conference as a whole is getting faster, which is really exciting,” Laurita said. “I think [that] rather than taking that negatively and allowing [the] contagion of ‘oh we’re not keeping up [with the other teams’] to spread, we are trying to spread the positivity.”
Dixon also looked positively on the season as a whole.
“I think our women’s team as a whole has been a lot closer this year,” said Dixon. “Every single one of our seniors was super happy with how we did and how we ended our season.”
The season is not over for all of the swimmers, though. Four members of the team will likely participate in Nationals from March 20-23 in Greensboro, North Carolina. However, because several DIII conferences have not yet had their championship meets, spots still remain uncertain.
“Nothing is set in stone,” Dixon said. “There could be a couple of swimmers who actually swim faster than the times that we swam last weekend which could knock people out of swimming at Nationals.”
Dixon still feels confident that at least three of the women are locked in for Nationals, with the fourth waiting for results from the other conference championships. The four swimmers in contention for spots are Dixon, Laurita, Lowery and Banasiak.