February 19, 2007

W. Swimmers Finish Last

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It’s about that time again. This weekend the women’s swimming and diving team competed in the Ivy League championship meet in Princeton, N.J., finishing eighth out of the eight schools competing.

“It’s been a privilege to be part of this group,” said head coach John Holohan of his squad.

And with that, the Red’s 2006-2007 season was over. The championship meet was a strong showing for individual team members, if not in the final team point totals.

“The team really did a good job,” Holohan said. “Almost everyone had some kind of personal best time.”

Freshman distance swimmer Katie Gryka and sophomore Heidi Judd both achieved lifetime bests in the mile with times of 18:07.52 and 18:14.42 respectively.

Sophomores Mary Cirella and Sarah Yan swam for college career-best times, and freshman Emily Caras swam the 200 butterfly in 2:09.86, four seconds faster than her previous best in the butterfly this year.

Underclassmen carried the day for the Red. According to Holohan, it was apparent from the scores that freshman and sophomores were consistently placing well.

But the biggest individual victory of the day belonged to junior co-captain Leah Tourtellotte. Tourtellotte placed 10th overall in the 100-meter freestyle, with a personal-best in the morning qualifier. Tourtellotte’s time in the 100 butterfly was fast enough to make the cut time for the USA National meet. The Nationals are one step below the Olympic Trials.

“That’s a big accomplishment,” Holohan said. “This can be a stepping stone for a lot of different things. This was her first National cut time in her career. It’s something she’s been trying for since she was 12.”

Holohan said that at the end of the day, he was not surprised by the team’s overall rankings.

“Swimming is the kind of sport where for every one Leah [Tourtellotte] we have, Harvard and Yale have 17,” Holohan said. “Swimming is very predictable.”

Holohan said that you can usually tell going into a meet how the final standings will turn out by looking at the competitor’s top times in their respective events.

“It’s really hard to drop two seconds when you are at a senior level of swimming,” Holohan said.

But despite the odds, Holohan said the team showed a tremendous amount of heart and effort.

“The girls knew going in that we were huge underdogs,” he said. “And not one single girl gave up for one second. I was really proud of their effort and performance. From that standpoint, we had an extremely successful meet.”

The team will be losing four seniors after this year, including co-captains Caitlin Burrows, Kristin Conway, Sabrina Kwauk and Rebecca Nolan.

They will leave behind a team that has been steadily improving for the last couple of years.

“We’ve improved every year for about the last three years,” Holohan said. “The win-loss record doesn’t really tell you anything.”

The scoring rules in a regular season dual meet are very different from the way points are totaled in a championship meet, like the Ivies.

In dual meets, a team like Princeton that has a tremendous amount of depth could still hypothetically lose, Holohan said, because scoring does not emphasize a team’s depth in favor of the team with the top swimmer in every event.

Although the season is technically over, the work of a varsity swimmer is never really done.

“[The team] will have voluntary training, probably the week before spring break,” Holohan said.

“You really can’t take more than three weeks off and still be in shape,” Holohan said.

But for the moment at least, the team can sit back a little and reflect on its season.

“I was just really proud of these girls,” Holohan said. “Their spirit is phenomenal.”