Women swim undefeated for first time in history

This year’s seniors are distance freestyler Sarah Dobbs, co-captain butterflier Jaime Fisher, who returned to the pool mid-season after an eye injury, co-captain butterflier Ashley Simonsen and breaststroker Bea Wallace.

The seniors reflected on their final season. “10-0 is pretty hard to believe,” said Fisher. “What makes it better is that we were able to share the success with the [9-0] men’s team.”

The other seniors also expressed their enjoyment at being a part of this talented group. “I am thrilled to be ending my swimming career with this season,” said Dobbs. “This year’s team is made up of incredible individuals who are great to have as friends and fun to train with in the pool. Swimming and competing with them has really shown me how contagious success can be.”

The swimming began with Jeff teams claiming the first two places in the 200-yard medley relay. Liz Chiang ’05, Jill Wyrick ’05, Simonsen and Rebecca Stein ’05 finished first, followed by Natalie Dyer ’07, Wallace, Margaret Ramsey ’07 and Kathleen Evans ’07 in second.

The domination continued as Michelle McCreary ’05, Alexis Johnston ’05 and Dobbs swept the 1000-yard freestyle, placing in that order. Next, Ramsey won the 200-yard freestyle. In the 50-yard freestyle, Chiang swam a season-best 24.79 to win, followed by Stein who came in a close second in 24.84.

Another sweep came in the 200-yard individual medley, accomplished by a trio of first-years in Jasmina Cheung-Lau, Piper Pettersen and Dyer. Pettersen and Cheung-Lau traded the lead back and forth through 50 yards each of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle before Cheung-Lau pulled ahead for good.

Cheung-Lau, Simonsen and Lisa Rubinger ’07 completed the third Amherst sweep, winning the 200-yard butterfly. Chiang and Ramsey finished one-two in the 100-yard freestyle. Chiang swam her second season-best of the day and earned an NCAA B-cut with her time of 53.29.

McCreary and Dyer returned to the pool to finish first and second in the 200-yard backstroke, as McCreary swam a season-best 2:11.34 for the victory.

In the first event the Jeffs did not win, Katie Massopust ’05, Dobbs and Mia Anderson ’06 placed two-three-four, respectively, in the 500-yard freestyle.

Kristin Boyd ’05 continued to dive well, placing first in the one-meter and second in the three-meter event. Hilary Stockbridge ’05 and Pettersen had the two fastest times in the 200-yard breaststroke in the penultimate race.

The final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay, was also the final home event for the seniors. The four swam together one last time as a relay team. Dobbs, Wallace, Fisher and Simonsen placed third but appreciated the special event.

“I personally enjoyed the day and especially the senior relays at the end of the meet,” said Fisher. “The four of us … have stuck it out for four years, through good times and bad, and hopefully have left a lasting impact on the team. The team certainly has left a lasting impact on me.”

The seniors remain impressed with their team’s accomplishments, especially two team firsts. This team is the first group to defeat Williams College in 16 years and is also the first ever women’s swimming and diving team with a perfect dual-meet season.

“I never would’ve imagined that in my four years here I’d see the women’s team become the dominant team it is now,” said Fisher. “Williams seemed so untouchable my freshman year.”

Simonsen agreed and commented on the bittersweet nature of the end of the season. “I’m really sad about the season ending and have had a wonderful time on the Amherst team for four years, but I’m looking forward to NESCACs and think the team has a shot at qualifying a large number of people for Nationals,” she said.

Saturday was both a conclusion and a celebration for the graduating seniors. “The ‘senior meet’ was a nice way to end my dual-meet competitions,” said Fisher. “There were a good number of families in the stands … to celebrate the end of a great season and, for us seniors, great swimming careers together.”

The team is now tapering for the NESCAC Championships, which will take place the weekend of Feb. 20-22 at Wesleyan University. “I think we’re well-positioned for NESCACs in the sense that people’s times are really starting to drop, both in practice and in meets, which bodes well for a good taper,” said Simonsen. “We’ve trained harder than ever this year, so I think people will see some significant drops come NESCACs.”