The women’s swim and dive team finished up a successful season, coming in second place at the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference championship meet for the fourth consecutive year. Despite the frustration of a fourth time repeat, all members remain proud of their achievements.
“It’s always hard to come in second, but we couldn’t be more proud with the way everyone stepped up to the blocks,” said senior Megan Gillespei. “We knew going in a win would take some luck, so we gave it everything we had.”
Everything the Tigers had included multiple new records both for CC and for the conference. In the meet’s opening race, the 200-yard medley relay, seniors Gillespei and Olivia Dilorati and sophomores Ellen Silk and Justina Zuckerman set a new conference and school record with a winning time of 1:45.56. The Tigers continued to shine on the first day of the championships. In the 800-yard freestyle relay race, Dilorati, Zuckerman, senior Erin Holmes, and sophomore Emily Harrison both won the race and crushed the previous school record by seven seconds.
Head coach Anne Goodman James noted her excitement with the team’s performances, especially those of the individuals who will get to continue on.
“We are thrilled with the performances of our team at the SCAC championships. People really stepped up and had breakthrough swims. We are excited about the possibilities for our women at the upcoming last chance meet and at the NCAA national championships,” Goodman James said.
The possibilities for Dilorati certainly seem high, as she continued on to set even more records, this time individually. In the preliminaries of the 50-yard freestyle event, Dilorati clocked in at 23.75 seconds, breaking the CC record for the event. Then, just eight hours later, during the finals, Dilorati lowered her time even further, finishing in just 23.54 seconds, which is the third fastest 50-yard freestyle time in SCAC history. The next day, Dilorati set her fourth school record and second SCAC record when she won the 100-yard butterfly. Once again, Dilorati beat her own record-breaking preliminary time in the finals. With the 100-yard butterfly win, Dilorati is now tied for fourth in SCAC history for individual titles.
The Tigers also added on another team victory, with Dilorati, Gillespei, Silk, and Zuckerman claiming first place in the 400-yard medley relay. The team’s only diver, sophomore Mary Rose Donahue, placed third in the 3-meter competition for the second year in a row. On the last night of the meet, Silk posted the only individual victory for the Tigers in the 200-yard butterfly, defending her title. In a great moment of symmetry, the Tigers won the final event of the meet just like they won the opening event. Dilorati, Holmes, Harrison, and Zuckerman triumphed in the 400-yard freestyle relay with a narrow victory of just one second.
But the merits of the team go beyond broken records and first place finishes. Goodman James mentioned her appreciation of those swimmers who volunteered to swim outside of their regular events, a risk that ultimately paid off. Goodman James said, “Zoe Pierrat, Jackie Nonweiler, and Lauren Larrabee were real difference makers in that regard.”
It was a unique meet as not only the swimmers and divers were honored, but the coaches as well. Goodman James and her assistant coaches were one of three who shared the Women’s Staff of the Year award. But in Goodman James’ eyes it was really an honor for the players.
“It’s an honor because it recognizes the outstanding performances of everyone on our team, so it’s really recognition of our swimmers and divers. I’m proud of the trust that our student athletes have in us, and in the consistent effort they give us throughout the season,” said Goodman James.
It is a bittersweet end for the entire team, as they prepare to say goodbye to the senior class. Upon the close of her final season, Gillespei called the bond between the team members to be her proudest accomplishment as a CC swimmer.
“The season was great! We had a bunch of new energy from our freshmen, a new assistant coach, and some highly reputable volunteers from the area. I am most proud of the family we have created on the team and the ability to welcome newcomers as well as continue to support each other in and out of the pool,” Gillespei said.
The season comes to an end with nothing but pride and hope for NCAA qualifiers. The award winning coach, Goodman James, expressed her pleasure to have coached the team this season, boasting, “CC had so many incredible performances.” And there will hopefully be even more to come at the NCAA meet.