The women’s swimming team had four top-20 finishes at the Division III Championship last week in Shenandoah, Texas, though they did not qualify for the finals in any event. 

It was the first time since 2012 that the team was represented at nationals and the five swimmers were the most that the team has sent to nationals in over a decade.

“This was a surprise for us,” said captain Patty Boyer ’15. “We didn’t really expect to get to go to NCAAs, we didn’t expect to swim fast enough to even have a chance at qualifying, so that in itself was a surprise. What was also a surprise was how well we did considering we hadn’t planned for this to happen.”

“There was a lot of energy. It was a really good place to be. Everyone wanted to do well and everyone was fast and it was just fun,” said Mariah Rawding ’18.  

The team competed in four relays and Rawding competed in three individual events. Rawding finished 18th in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.89), 21st in the 200 breaststroke (2:21.60) and 32nd in the 50 freestyle (23.90). 

Rawding, Boyer, Bridget Killian ’16 and Sophia Walker ’17 finished 19th in the 200 freestyle relay (1:35.94) and 21st in the 200 medley (1:46.94). Killian, Rawding, Lela Garner ’16 and Walker finished 18th in the 400 freestyle relay (3:29.51) and 17th in the 400 medley relay (3:54.48).

Because none of the five swimmers had ever been to nationals, they did not have experience training during  the four-week stretch after the NESCAC championships. 

“Everyone did a really great job considering we weren’t really sure how our training was going to pay off,” Boyer said. “I think we are all, and should be, happy for how we swam, and for staying close to how we swam at NESCACs.” 

The new training schedule proved to be the biggest challenge for the team.

“You have to really commit to it, that’s the hardest part,” said Rawding. “I think the mental part over the four weeks was really hard.”

“You can swim a race and go really fast and never be able to make that time again,” Boyer said. “Being able to do it twice in a row, five weeks apart with whacky training is a really great accomplishment.”

After a preliminary race, the top 16 finishers qualified for the finals. No Bowdoin swimmer qualified for the finals.

“It was right on what I expected us to do, we swam very close to the times we did at the conference meet,” said Head Coach Brad Burnham. “I think we were hoping to finish in the top 16, to be All-American. That would have made it really great.” 

“Our goal was to make it back to finals,” said Boyer. “We were positioned going into the event to be in them [based on qualifying time], but because of not dropping enough time or other teams getting faster, we didn’t make it back, so that was disappointing. Overall I think we have things to be happy about.”

“Individually, I wanted to go a little faster,’” said Rawding.“Overall I was happy.” 

Killian—who set a school record in her leg of the 400 freestyle relay (52.09)—Garner, Rawding, and Walker will have the chance to qualify for nationals again next year. 

“Now that they understand what the meet is like and the interval between the conference championships and the nationals and what kind of training we need to do, I think we’ll be prepared for next year,” Burnham said.