Women's swimming surges ahead

By beating Wesleyan, the women are on their way to repeating as Little Three champions. Before the 2003 campaign, the team last claimed that title in 1987. This season’s deciding meet will take place at Williams College on Jan. 8.

The meet opened with the 50-yard backstroke, which tri-captain Liz Chiang ’05 won handily. Jill Wyrick ’05 led the 50-yard breaststrokers with a school record-breaking 31.62 and second place. She was followed closely by first-years Brittany Sasser and Suzie Luft in third and fourth, respectively.

Sophomores Piper Pettersen and Margaret Ramsey shone in the 50-yard butterfly, as they finished first and second at 27.10 and 27.14, respectively. It was a pair of seniors who carried the 1000-yard freestyle, as tri-captain Michelle McCreary and Alexis Johnston finished first and second, respectively. “McCreary and Johnston were dependably excellent in the distance events,” said Chiang.

Jennifer Lewkowitz ’08 won the 200-yard freestyle, and Chiang took second in the 50-yard freestyle. The 400-yard individual medley saw Jasmina Cheung-Lau ’07 and Julie Kim ’08 place second and third, respectively.

Amherst’s diving duo of Kate Shaw and Kristin Boyd, both seniors, continued to display last season’s excellence as they took first and second in the one-meter, respectively. Shaw scored her first of two necessary National qualifications with 257.93 points.

Pettersen returned to the pool to win the 100-yard butterfly in 58.95, followed by Hilary Stockbridge ’05 in third. Ramsey won the 100-yard freestyle swimming “phenomenally,” according to Chiang.

Sasser and first-year Natalie Dyer finished first and second, respectively, in the 100-yard backstroke, while Rebecca Stein ’05 and Cheung-Lau did likewise in the 500-yard freestyle. “Stein showed domination and versatility in the freestyle by winning the 500-yard,” said Chiang, noting Stein’s freestyle flexibility.

Shaw and Boyd returned to the boards to easily surpass the Cardinals and again finished first and second, respectively. Shaw achieved a three-meter National qualification as well. Pettersen finished up a stellar meet by making an NCAA B-cut in the 100-yard breaststroke.

The meet closed with the 200-yard freestyle relay. The same team that placed third last year at Nationals-Chiang, Wyrick, Ramsey and Stein-broke the 4-year old pool record by .12 seconds with a time of 1:39.49. The time was good enough to qualify for the National B-cut. The “B” relay included junior Gretchen Sisson, sophomores Lisa Rubinger and Alexis Gaines, as well as first-year Lisa Pritchard.

“All in all it was a great first meet for us and we were really happy with our results,” said Massopust. “We also had a fantastic weekend of training, some of the best I can remember in my Amherst career.”

The women will need to reap the rewards of that training as their upcoming schedule should prove a more difficult test.

Next weekend will be one of the most important of the fall semester as the women seek to repeat the success of last year’s undefeated, 10-0 season. The women travel to Vermont on Saturday to face NESCAC rival Middlebury College in the Natatorium.

“It was a great meet to kick off the season,” said McCreary of the Wesleyan victory. “I think everyone really enjoyed this first opportunity to come together and race as a team. We are all really excited for the rest of the season.”