This past weekend, the women’s swim and dive team traveled to Waterville for the 2022 NESCAC Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships. Over three days of intense competition, the team shattered multiple school records and came back to Brunswick with a fifth-place finish.
Among the successful women of last weekend, Ella Riccio ’25 stood out. Riccio rewrote Bowdoin’s record books for the 50m and 100m freestyle with times of 23.04 and 50.61, respectively.
Riccio attributes much of her success to her coaches’ support and guidance.
“All the coaches work really hard to make the best, most positive environment and also help us to put in all the work that we need to,” Riccio said.
Ella Martin ’24 also credited the coaches for their leadership this year.
“At the beginning of the season, our coach met with all of us and had a goals meeting,” Martin said. “I did have a couple goals, not just coming into the season, but [also] coming into Bowdoin. I wanted to get the 50 back record and the 100 back record. I wanted to go to Nationals.”
Over the weekend, Martin realized those goals and earned a first-place finish in the 50-yard backstroke and broke the school records in the 50m backstroke and the 100m backstroke as well. She will be competing in NCAA DIII Nationals in March.
In addition to the major role the coaches played in the team’s success, Riccio also believes that the team environment has been crucial to individual success.
“The team comes together and supports you. If you look along the sides of the pool while you’re racing, your teammates are always there. If you look on the other side, they’re there. There’s always someone cheering for you. That really feels good,” Riccio said.
This supportive attitude extends to the men’s team, who held a watch party for the womens’ NESCAC competition this past weekend to support their fellow athletes.
Martin also believes that the team’s ability to motivate and challenge one another are catalysts for success.
“There’s healthy competition, but then there’s also fun thrown in. And I personally would attribute all of my success to [my teammates],” Martin said.
Aside from Martin and Riccio, three other women will attend nationals as individual competitors: Emilie Grand’Pierre ’23, Tatum Zupnik ’24 and Sadie Smith ’25.
Grand’Pierre placed 3rd in the 50m breaststroke while Zupnik finished second in the 50m butterfly final. Smith won the three-meter diving competition and qualified for nationals in both the one-meter and three-meter competitions. The team has two additional spots for the legs of their relays, both of which will be chosen by coaches.
At the end of the weekend, the Polar Bears edged out Middlebury to claim fifth place, finishing just behind Bates.
“We honestly couldn’t be happier with how it turned out,” Martin said.
With the season over for most of the team, the focus for those athletes not attending nationals has shifted to preparation for next year.
“There’s so much improvement coming in the next few years. We have a couple [first years] coming in that are really exciting,” Martin said.
The whole team may not be practicing together anymore, but they will certainly be staying close over the offseason.
“We were able to come together and make a cohesive team. And not only a cohesive team, but one of the best teams that any of us have really been on,” Martin said. “So I’m proud of us for making that environment.”