Swimming beats Widener, McDaniel to open season

Pooja Kumar, Sarah Timreck and Cassandra Vondrak prepare for their relay. (Gerado Limón/The Phoenix)

Coming off a 2010-11 season in which both teams achieved a third-place showing at the Centennial Conference championships, the Swarthmore men’s and women’s swim teams roared into the 2011-12 campaign last week, retooled and ready to take on the conference. Boasting a high percentage of returning contributors and an impressive crop of first-years, the Garnet men and women took a pair of meets each in the opening week, besting 320 rival Widener (111-79 M, 107-98 W) and Conference competitor McDaniel (57-38 M, 58-37 W).

“The kids are swimming absolutely terrifically,” head coach Sue Davis said. “These wins [are not] as easy as they could be, [but] every time we’d get behind … the kids dug down and pulled it out.” Coach Davis is in her 37th year with the women’s team and 28th year at the helm for the men.

The season-opening meet at Widener featured fast swims across classes on both the men’s and women’s sides. Supriya Davis ’15, in her first collegiate meet, won three events to lead the Garnet women, recording the second-fastest times in Swarthmore history in two of them. Her 1000 freestyle time of 10:54.75 trails only a 2007 record set by Anne Miller ’10; her 200 freestyle, a fast 1:55.93, is just six-tenths of a second off of Claire Arbor’s ’00 1997 record.

Kate Wiseman ’15 took both sprint freestyle events (25.08 and 55.44), continuing the Garnet’s first-year onslaught; Becky Teng ’14, one of last season’s breakout stars, was also a double winner, taking the 200 IM (2:16.50) and the 100 backstroke (1:04.18). 2011 Conference silver medalist Erin Lowe ’14 touched first in the 100 butterfly (1:01.91) to cap Swarthmore’s individual wins on the women’s side.

“The general team atmosphere is a great motivator to swim fast,” Davis said. “In high school the emphasis was on the individual and individual times … [Swarthmore’s] stronger emphasis on the team as a whole is probably the biggest change for me.”

Tim Brevart, Fred Toohey and Neil Palmer warm up before their races. (Gerardo Limón/The Phoenix)

On the men’s side, Tim Brevart ’12 swept the sprint freestyle events (21.88 and 49.32) in the first of two sweeps of the week, and the Garnet class of 2014 dominated the rest of the meet, as four different Swarthmore sophomores finished first in their events. Brian Nadel ’14 won the 1000 freestyle (10:42.87), John Flaherty ’14 took the 200 IM (2:05.17), Peter Ballen ’14 led the field in the 500 free (5:05.64), and Zach Gavin ’14 touched first in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.96). Sam Bullard-Sisken ’12 won the 100 butterfly in 55.62.

“Sophomore men are really stepping up; senior men are really stepping up,” Coach Davis said. “We have some outstanding swimmers in the freshman class — [the depth] is what makes us so good.”

Neither team let up in the Centennial Conference opener against the McDaniel Green Terror, as the men and women combined to break five of McDaniel’s pool records. A Swarthmore record also fell as Wiseman sped to a 24.56 in the 50 freestyle, breaking a four-year-old mark held by Sarah Cotcamp ’07. Her 54.11 in the 100 freestyle was the second-fastest time in program history and the fastest ever at McDaniel.

Davis set the women’s third pool record of the meet with a 2:13.51 in the 200 IM. She scored a repeat victory in the 1000, as well, taking a close race in 10:59.58. Her 500 free, a 5:18.55, was over nine seconds ahead of her closest competitor.

Lowe won both the 200 freestyle (2:04.00) and the 100 butterfly (1:02.09).

It was the seniors’ time to shine for the men, as Brevart set a pool record. Brevart’s 50 freestyle (21.55) was just three-tenths of a second off of his own program record.

The sophomores once again finished the work started by the record-setting senior, as Ballen, Flaherty and Cyrus Nasseri ’14 all scored individual wins of their own.

“It definitely feels good to get a couple of wins under our belts right from the get-go,” Brevart said. “I was a little anxious as to how the team would look compared to the rest of the conference, but our younger guys have really stepped up.”

Not only are the Garnet swimmers winning, their wins are bringing in times that Coach Davis referred to as “unheard-of” for so early in the competition schedule.

Although the season is barely a week old, records have already been broken, and several more are poised to fall by the wayside as the athletes gain strength throughout the year.
The swimmers point to out-of-water adjustments as major contributors to the team’s early success.

“Proper dieting and cross training has really paid off,” Brevart said. “I feel stronger than I’ve ever felt … I’m ready to push harder and dig deeper from now until February and then hopefully beyond.”

“We’ve had multiple ‘Swimmers of the Meet’ every time so far,” Coach Davis said. “It’s dedication and determination that’s made these first two meets a success.”

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