Kenyon College won its third straight national title and 20th in 21 years with 507 points, and NESCAC champion Williams College placed fourth with 289. Amherst finished just ahead of ninth-place Middlebury College.
“The women were on and off this weekend, but when they were on, they were really on,” said co-captain Ashley Simonsen ’04. With seven swimmers returning, including three first-years and a number of near-misses in qualifying for finals, Amherst should only improve in 2005.
The meet opened with the 200-yard freestyle relay. Liz Chiang ’05, Jill Wyrick ’05, Margaret Ramsey ’07 and Becca Stein ’05 placed 12th in 1:38.37. “The relays were definitely our strong points … and I think that speaks to our ability to come together as a team and get it done for Amherst and each other,” said Ramsey.
Chiang’s 50-yard freestyle time of 24.56 earned her 18th, just short of the 16th place finish needed to qualify for finals and earn points for the team. Diver Shaw also finished just short of finals, placing ninth in the one-meter.
The first day ended on a high note when the 400-yard medley relay team of Chiang, Wyrick, Piper Pettersen ’07 and Stein placed third in the finals with a time of 3:55.48.
Friday opened with the 200-yard medley relay. Chiang, Wyrick, Pettersen and Stein, who hold the NESCAC title in the event, finished fifth with a time of 1:48.37. Chiang’s leadoff 50-yard backstroke time of 27.37 set a new college record.
In the 100-yard butterfly Pettersen tied for 16th in 58.33, but lost the swim-off for finals. Once again, she fell just short of finals with her 18th place finish and 1:07.82 time in the 100-yard breaststroke. Chiang also just missed finals, placing 17th in the 100-yard backstroke in 1:00.15.
The 800-yard freestyle relay team of Pettersen, Wyrick, Jasmina Cheung-Lau ’07 and Ramsey finished 13th in finals with a time of 7:52.17 to wrap up Friday’s events. Ramsey’s swam the anchor leg in an impressive 1:53.76.
Day three began with the 100-yard freestyle and Amherst’s first individual performance in the finals. Stein’s 52.89 was fast enough to earn her 14th in preliminaries and send her to the finals, where she finished 16th in 53.36.
Pettersen’s 17th-place time of 2:25.04 in the 200-yard breaststroke missed qualifying for finals. Despite several close misses, she enjoyed the meet. “As with every new experience this season, it reminded me why I love this sport so much,” said Pettersen.
Cheung-Lau earned a spot in finals for the 200-yard butterfly, where she finished 16th. The 400-yard freestyle relay team of Chiang, Ramsey, Wyrick and Stein finished eighth.
Amherst’s top individual finisher was Shaw, on the three-meter diving board. After a rollercoaster season which saw her break her hand and come back to win a NESCAC title, Shaw finished fourth with 381.5 points.
Shaw describes breaking her hand as “the best thing that has happened to me in a long time … [It] reminded me how much I really loved diving,” which she thought helped her excel in the postseason. “I wasn’t putting pressure on myself to dive well because I was so happy to be diving at all,” said Shaw.
“Kate Shaw was typically incredible. We’ve come to depend heavily on her in clinch competitions, and she definitely helped to squeeze us past Middlebury in the final team scores,” said Chiang.
“This season certainly wasn’t easy or painless, but it showed me a lot about how far I can push myself. It has also [shown] me how amazing my teammates are. Their support was what got me through everything,” said Shaw.
The NCAA meet concluded the women’s unprecedented season on a positive note. “In a lot of ways, this meet was great because our success only made us more excited to continue to improve next season,” said Ramsey.
Simonsen called the upset victory over Williams the team’s greatest moment this year. “It was one of those meets where we really swam like a team, where we made every single point count,” said Simonsen. “When our goals are collective, we shine.”