Stroking and Soaring

The duo was at the helm of a fleet of Jeffs — 13 in all — who were recognized with all-NESCAC honors for their performances at the meet. Both Stern and Meisinger also picked up prestigious hardware at the meet, with Stern named the Swimmer of the Meet (she became just the second NESCAC swimmer to earn the honor three times during her career) in addition to earning the Four-Year High-Point Swimming Award, and Meisinger keeping stride with her own Diver of the Meet and Four-Year High-Point Diving Awards.

The Ephs, who have won the NESCACs for 11 straight years, finished the three-day competition with 1,961 points to the Jeffs’ 1,637. It is worth noting, however, that this year’s Jeffs, revamped with a deeper roster, have continued to bridge that gap, as they scored roughly 300 more points this year at the meet than they did last year.

Between the pool dividers, Stern was her usual self, winning the 100-, 200- and 500-yard freestyles in dominating fashion.

Since her arrival at the College, Stern has never lost any of those races at the NESCACs. This year, she managed to best her own pool record in the 100, on her way to earning an NCAA “A” time in that race to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships next month. Sophomore Katie Vincett also qualified for the race at Nationals, landing in fifth with an NCAA “B” time of 52.68.

An integral part of the Jeffs’ new-found depth, first-year Abby Hahn set a new Amherst record in the 200-yard breaststroke, clocking in at 2:21.27, which was also good enough for an NCAA “B” time. Just as dominant in the breaststroke was junior Rebecca Kelley, who won the 50 and 100 and finished eighth in the 200. In addition, senior Andrea Jensen finished seventh in that race.

The school record in the 1,650-yard freestyle also went down over the weekend, with first-year Audrey Ingerson outpacing the previous record of 17:33.21 by about six seconds, while junior Becca Thompson’s 17:22.80 also qualified as an NCAA “B” time.

In the backstroke, two Amherst sophomores, Emily Swett and Maddy Sprung-Keyser both made the NCAA “B” cut in finishing second and fourth, respectively, in the 200-yard backstroke. The 400-yard freestyle relay tandem of Lulu Belak ’14, team captain Brooke Bennett, Stern and Vincett also slipped under the “B” barrier, finishing in second place.

On the diving board, Meisinger soared past her competitors to capture first place in the one-meter dive, while first-year Lizzy Linsmayer pulled into third. Linsmayer, however, sustained a shoulder injury on Friday, and was unable to compete in the three-meter dive held later on. Meisinger picked up the slack, as she scored 451 points during her three-meter dive — 20 points higher than the score she earned at NESCACs last year to win the same event.

With the NCAA tournament fast approaching, the conference championships usually prime the NESCAC’s best swimmers for what’s to come. “Winning your event at NESCACS is great momentum for Nationals,” said Meisinger. “After a long season, its great to see all the hard work pay off and it keeps us motivated to stay focused for those extra few weeks of training leading up to Nationals.”

The members of the swimming and diving teams who have qualified for the NCAAs will travel to Knoxville, Tenn. on Mar. 23 to compete in their final meet of the season.