The first day began with the 500-yard freestyle. Co-captain Morgan Bayer ’03 placed 16th in the morning, qualifying for finals where she sliced off enough time to place 15th with a 5:05.93. This was only the first part of what co-captain Rory Miller ’03 described as Bayer’s “amazing meet.”
Jill Wyrick ’05 began what was to be her own incredible meet with the 200-yard individual medley. She swam a time of 2:08.34 in the morning, placing sixth. Teammate Hilary Stockbridge ’05 placed 49th with a time of 2:18.08. In the evening, Wyrick returned to swim a 2:07.01, moving up to fourth and shattering the previous school record of 2:09.00. Next up was the 50-yard freestyle. Rebecca Stein ’05 sprinted a 24.33 in the preliminaries, finishing 15th. In the finals, she took 16th in 24.42. “Making it back in the consolation final heat of the 50 free was a big deal for me,” Stein said. “I definitely didn’t expect to make it back so it was very exciting.”
The day was completed by the 400-yard medley relay. Michelle McCreary ’05, Wyrick, Bayer, and Stein swam superbly, placing second in the morning in 3:55.89. They upped their performance in the evening to 3:54.91, finishing an excellent fourth. “Nationals was an awesome experience this year,” explained Stein. “Our 400 medley relay on the first night definitely set the pace for the whole meet. Our fourth-place finish in the relay was so exciting. We all swam so well in the relay.” By the end of the day, Amherst was in ninth.
Day two started out with the same relay team of McCreary, Wyrick, Bayer and Stein in the 200-yard medley relay placing a strong eighth with a time of 1:49.82. “The relays were incredible and I know they were all amazed at how well they did,” Miller affirmed.
Although the following 100-yard butterfly race was not her best event, Bayer experienced great success in it. She swam a 58.17 in the morning, placing 13th, and in the evening took 12th in finals in 58.24. This was followed by the 100-yard breaststroke, which Stockbridge swam at 1:09.53, placing 29th. Wyrick finished fourth in prelims in 1:05.79. In the finals she exceeded the morning’s performance, and swam a 1:05.26, placing third and breaking a second school record. The former Amherst best time was 1:05.61, set in 1999. The 800-yard freestyle relay brought a close to the second day as Bayer, Wyrick, McCreary and Stein took ninth in 7:47.13.
“We were really excited about how well our relays did,” stated McCreary, “with both medleys in finals, and our 800 free relay winning [the consolation round] and just missing a school record.” The Jeffs moved up a notch to eighth after the second day.
McCreary began the final day of competition with her individual event, the 200-yard backstroke. In the morning her 15th place finish of 2:08.51 earned her a spot at finals. In the evening, she returned to take 16th place in 2:09.58. Stein tied for 17th in the 100-yard freestyle, swimming a 53.20 and just missing qualifying for finals. Stockbridge swam a 2:29.55 in the 200-yard breaststroke, placing 32nd. This was Wyrick’s third event in which she set a new school record. Wyrick placed ninth in the morning with a 2:23.80. Her tenth-place time in the finals was a 2:22.68, far surpassing the old record of 2:24.68. “Jill had the meet of her life,” said McCreary.
The final race for the Jeffs was Bayer’s in the 200-yard butterfly. In prelims she swam a 2:03.68, her best, placing third. In the evening she improved her stellar time further, completing her season with a third-place 2:03.55. This smashed the previous school record of 2:04.46 which she set last year. Her teammates spoke highly of her success in the event. “Even though she didn’t win, which I know she had hoped to do, she was really happy and should be.” Miller said. “Morgan has had an unbelievable career here.”
“She is such a hard worker and supportive captain. We are really going to miss her next year,” said McCreary
The women’s team ended their season with an amazing national championship. “This was probably Amherst women’s best showing at nationals,” Miller said. “We only had four girls who scored, and still managed to get eighth place.” Another victory, no less significant to the swimmers, was finishing well ahead of Middlebury College., The Panthers edged the Jeffs in the regular season and at NESCACs. This time, however, the outcome was different as the Panthers finished 29th.
“It felt so good to beat Middlebury by so much,” McCreary aptly expressed the team sentiment on the subject.
The 200- and 400-yard medley relay teams as well as Wyrick and Bayer earned All-American honors for placing in the top eight in their individual events.
Stein summarized the weekend by saying, “Overall nationals was a great experience, full of fun, excitement and fast swimming.”