The Women’s Swimming and Diving team thoroughly outdid themselves at the NESCAC Championship on Feb. 14-17, placing fourth with an outstanding finish of 1,021 points. Nine women will go on to compete at the NCAA national tournament in two weeks (Mar. 20-23), tying the program record set in 2016.
Originally favored to narrowly win fifth, the Bobcats more than beat the prediction, earning almost 100 points more than fifth-place Connecticut College (932.5). Williams dominated the championships (1873), with Tufts (1439.5) and Amherst (1322) earning second and third.
“It was absolutely incredible that the Bates women came in fourth this year,” team captain Lucy Faust ‘19 said. “Rough calculations estimated we would come in 6th place. As the NESCAC continues to get faster each year, it seems to be harder to rise to the challenge but we did.”
One key performance from the meet came from Caroline Apathy ‘21 who earned her first NESCAC Championship title in the 100-yd butterfly (54.54), breaking the previous team record of 54.90 from Ho ‘20. This time put her at the no. 1 seed for the NCAA’s. In total, Apathy scored 84 individual points, additionally placing second in th 50-yd butterfly (24.95) and sixth in the 100-yd freestyle (51.72).
Relays were a strong point source for Bates. In the 200-yd freestyle, composed of Janika Ho ’20, Suzy Ryckman ‘22, Maya Reynoso-Williams ‘22 and Apathy, Bates placed third with a time of 1:35.13. Placing third in the 200-yd medley relay were Ho, Emmy Daigle ‘19, Ryckman and Apathy with a time of 1:43.87.
While there are some athletes who truly shined at this meet, the overall depth of the team is the true driver for the team’s success this year. Many fifth, sixth, seventh and so on place finishes by Bates were where Bates really stacked up the points. Head Coach Peter Casares noted that a larger number of athletes scored points for Bates than in years past, exemplifying the overall strength of the team.
“The biggest surprise was to see the incredible depth of our team each night at finals,” Faust said. “Unlike in years past, we had multiple swimmers in the A, B, and C finals which really spoke to the phrase of the back of our NESCAC T-shirts this year, ‘Better Together.’”
Unlike Bates which currently lacks divers, each of the top three teams were able to rack up points in the 1-m and 3-m diving events.
Nine swimmers, three returnees, will attend the NCAA National Championships. Apathy will race in the 100-yd butterfly and freestyle, Daigle will compete in the 100-yd breaststroke and Faust will swim the 1,650-yd freestyle.
Bates will compete in five relays: the 200 and 400-yd medleys, and the 200, 400 and 800-yd freestyles. Additional swimmers in these relays include Ho, Ryckman, Isabel Mohammadi-Hall ‘22, Erin Bucki ‘21, Reynoso Williams and Caroline Sweeney ‘22.
“Nationals has a different atmosphere than the NESCAC championships for its a larger pool and bigger teams,” Apathy said. “It’s very fun though to be with eight other friends on your team and swimming along with other fast schools in the warm state of North Carolina.”
Faust will return for her third and final NCAA Championship. Reflecting over her time as a member of the Swim and Dive team, she said, “As I’ve gotten older during my time at Bates I think increasingly more about something a captain my sophomore year, Josh Rines, said, which was that the ‘best times’ we have on Bates Swim & Dive are beyond the fastest, or best times shown on the scoreboard. The real ‘best times’ we have are the memories and moments that we share as a group. It is really the people – the teammates and coaches that have kept me in the sport.”
The NCAA National Championships will be held on Mar. 20-23 in Greensboro, N.C.
“If we can get times to be an afterthought, and racing the perfect races a top priority, I think we will continue our tradition of being our best against the best when it matters the most,” Coach Casares said. “That is the greatest gift you can give any student athlete: the confidence to know they can be at their best when it is needed the most.”