Swimming: Women plan to repeat undefeated feat

Last season, in addition to defeating NESCAC rival Middlebury College, Amherst shut down NESCAC powerhouse Williams College, shattering the Ephs’ 103-dual-meet winning streak and paving the way to Amherst’s own undefeated season with a record of 10-0.

The women placed third at NESCACs and eighth at Nationals. At NCAAs, the 400-yard medley relay team of Liz Chiang ’05, Jill Wyrick ’05, Piper Pettersen ’07 and Rebecca Stein ’05 placed third.

This season, although still small by NESCAC standards, Amherst’s team has grown deeper and more well-rounded. “All around, our team is strong,” said tri-captain Katie Massopust ’05. “Every swimmer has something to contribute.” added Massopust.

The women are led by s enior tri-captains Chiang (50-yard backstroke record holder and sprint freestyler), Massopust (mid-distance and distance), and Michelle McCreary (distance and backstroke) all of who are enthusiastic about the team’s strength and potential.

“I think this is one of the strongest womens teams to come through Amherst swimming and diving,” said McCreary.

The senior class is large and talented. Rebecca Stein is the school record holder in the 200-yard freestyle. Wyrick holds records in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke and the 100- and 200-yard individual medley. Kate Shaw, the defending NESCAC champion, and Kristin Boyd, who returns from a stunning breakthrough season, are Amherst’s senior divers. Shaw placed fourth in the nation in the three-meter competition.

“We’re expecting big contributions from this year’s sophomore class; Pettersen, Margaret Ramsey, Jasmina Cheung-Lau and Natalie Dyer helped to earn us big points as freshmen and have been swimming extremely well,” said Chiang. Pettersen holds the 100-yard butterfly record, and Ramsey claimed the 200 freestyle record until Stein broke it at NESCACs.

“Additionally, we’ve been blessed with an incredibly talented and delightful freshman class of undoubtably key relay members and individual threats to Williams,” said Chiang.

The first-years, including Brittany Sasser (backstroke), Julie Kim (mid-distance freestyle), Suzie Luft (breaststroke), Lisa Pritchard (sprint freestyle,  backstroke), and Jennifer Lewkowitz, who, according to Massopust, “does everything, literally,” also provide depth to the team.

With the impressive team they have assembled, the women aspire to greatness. “This year, we are hoping to defend our victories over Middlebury and Williams, but this time in their own pools,” said McCreary. Amherst will face Middlebury on Saturday, Dec. 4 and Williams on Saturday, Jan. 8. “Not only do I think that we have the potential to send a huge team to Nationals, but I think we could contend for National titles in a number of relays and individual events,” said McCreary.

Massopust added, “I’m really excited about the season. I just love our team so much.”