Grueling, twice-a-day practices in unseasonably cold Florida weather paid off for the swimming and diving teams when they returned from their winter training trip to face the Bates Bobcats on Saturday, January 16.
Competing in home waters at Greason Pool, the women's team narrowly beat Bates by a ten-point margin (152-142), while the men's team outscored their competitors 179-115.
"Winter training was intense, but the team really pushed through and came out stronger. I think the meet against Bates has been the highlight of our season so far. Everyone was focused and determined to do the best they could, both individually and as a team, and it paid off," said Katherine Foley '13.
The Bowdoin women were strong in the sprint and middle-distance freestyle events, posting three first place finishes. In the 50-yard freestyle, captain Allison Palmer '11 out-touched her competitor by .09 seconds to finish in first. This victory was complemented by Foley's winning performances in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle.
In the 100-yard breastroke, Caitlin Callahan '11 and Jessie Small '11 led the pack, placing first and second, respectively.
However, the highlight performance for the women's team came during the final event of the meet, when the team of Palmer, Foley, Megan Sullivan '11 and Kaley Kokomoor '13 placed first in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Following in a close second was the squad of Small, Emily Shoemaker '12, Sydney Miller '12 and Allen Garner '12. These finishes earned the women 15 points, lifting them over the Bobcats for a final score of 152-142.
"We knew we could make a strong statement in the final relay," said Head Coach Brad Burnham. "[The women] scratched for every point and round up in just the right place."
On the men's side, sophomores Zach Perez and Nathan Mecray led the team in the individual events with three victories apiece. Perez won the 1000-yard freestyle, the 200-yard breastroke and the 200-yard individual medley. Mecray finished first in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle and the 100-yard breaststroke.
David Wells '10 helped complete Bowdoin's dominance in the freestyle events of the meet, winning the 200 and 500-yard races.
The men's team swept both relays, with the team of Perez, Basyl Stuyvesant '13, Mac Routh '12 and E.J. Googin '13 winning the 200-yard medley relay, and the team of Googin, Routh, Stuyvesant and Mecray winning the 400-yard freestyle relay.
A squad of Polar Bear divers rounded out the success of the meet, with sophomores Kevin Kowalko and Daniel Jeong finishing in second and third, respectively, in the men's 3-meter springboard. Ginger Leone '11 placed second in the women's 3-meter.
A week following the victory over Bates, the Polar Bears hosted the D-I University of Maine Black Bears in an exhibition meet on January 23.
The meet went unscored, but Bowdoin swimmers fared well, winning 19 of 34 events.
The men's team, paced once again by Perez, Wells, and Mecray, won all but two events.
"The meet against the University of Maine had a different focus. We tend to swim some off events to make for some good races but the meet has less pressure for points," said Burnham.
"It is good for our team to race some of the local Division I talent," he added.
The Polar Bears will travel to Connecticut this Saturday to compete against Wesleyan and Trinity.