With MIT and Springfield College separated by a mere 4.5 points heading into the final event of the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference women’s swimming and diving championships on Sunday night, both teams knew at the start of the 400-yard freestyle relay that a first-place finish would almost guarantee victory. A mere 3:34.81 later, Springfield’s Moira Price touched the wall first, beating out MIT’s top team by just over two seconds to give Springfield its eighth consecutive NEWMAC title.
Springfield closed the championships with 707.5 points, edging the Engineers who scored 701 points over the course of the weekend. It’s the ninth straight year that MIT has finished second at the conference championships.
Sasha B. Brophy ’08 and Nicole M. O’Keeffe ’09 finished 1-2 in the 500-yard freestyle, earning the Engineers a combined 37 points in the event. With an NCAA “B” cut time of 5:06.50, Brophy nabbed First Team All-Conference honors, while O’Keeffe garnered Second Team accolades with her finishing time of 5:08.77.
Diver Doria M. Holbrook ’08 eclipsed her own conference record on the one-meter board to take first-place for the third time in her illustrious career en route to First Team All-Conference honors. Competing in her final NEWMAC Championships, Holbrook’s score of 517.45 surpassed her own NEWMAC Open, Championship and Institute record of 513.65, set at last year’s Championships.
Nearly earning another victory for MIT was the 200-yard freestyle relay team of Amy E. Jacobi ’11, O’Keeffe, Sarah B. King ’10, and Brophy. The quartet clocked in at 1:38.59, pulling in 34 points and Second Team All-Conference plaudits, while missing out on both the Institute record and a first-place finish by less than two-tenths of a second.
Additionally, both Brophy (24.16 seconds) and Jacobi (24.24 seconds) earned NCAA “B” cuts for the 50-yard freestyle with their splits. Jacobi bested the “B” cut time in the 50-yard freestyle for a second time later in the evening, as she touched the wall in 24.30 to earn a tie for fifth-place with Wellesley College’s Savanna Johnson.
In the 200-yard individual medley, Abigail M. Clark ’09 and Jennifer A. Chao ’09 placed fifth and sixth, respectively, to pull in a combined 27 points for the Engineers. Clark finished the race in 2:16.13, while Chao followed closely behind at 2:16.40.
The evening’s final event, the 400-yard medley relay, elicited a third-place showing for MIT’s squad of Jacobi, O’Keeffe, Chao, and Brophy, as the crew touched the wall at 4:05.20. Tech’s “B” relay team earned the victory in the consolation final, as Lauren R. Hernley ’11, Clark, Ellie S. Souganidis ’10 and Kristen M. Felch ’09 finished with an impressive time of 4:12.03.
Behind First Team All-Conference performances from O’Keeffe in the 400-yard individual medley and Jacobi in the 100-yard butterfly, the team solidified its second-place position during day two of the competition.
O’Keeffe’s winning time of 4:38.15 in the 400-yard individual medley not only met the NCAA “B” cut standard in the event, but it also completely blew away the rest of her competition. Her finish in the evening’s finals was over seven seconds faster than her own qualifying time and nearly a full eight seconds quicker than runner-up Jenny Wu of Wellesley.
Just as impressive was Jacobi’s performance in the 100-yard butterfly. The rookie finished with a time of 57.67 seconds, re-establishing the NEWMAC Open and Championship record that she had just set hours earlier in the preliminaries, as well as claiming one of the top 10 fastest times in Division III. Following closely behind Jacobi were Chao (59.75 seconds, fourth-place) and Souganidis (1:00.38, sixth-place) to give the Engineers a major share of the event’s points.
Brophy also reached an NCAA “B” cut in the 200-yard freestyle, touching the wall at 1:55.19 to earn Second Team All-Conference honors and miss out on winning the event by just 0.26 seconds. Teammate King finished fifth with a time of 2:00.22.
Brophy garnered additional All-Conference plaudits in the 800-yard freestyle relay, as she led off the quartet that finished as runners-up. Along with O’Keeffe, King, and Jacobi, Brophy helped the team finish the race in an NCAA “B” cut time of 7:49.53, just 0.28 seconds slower than the winning squad from Springfield.
MIT picked up a fourth-place finish in the evening’s other relay, the 200-yard medley. Chao, O’Keeffe, Souganidis, and King clocked in at 1:55.06, beating Babson’s “A” squad by a mere one one-hundredth of a second.
O’Keeffe opened the final day of competition in fine fashion for MIT, notching First Team All-Conference honors in the 1,650-yard freestyle by finishing with an NCAA “B” cut time of 17:41.52. The junior closed the weekend with two First Team and three Second Team accolades.
Hernley followed with an eighth-place showing in the 200-yard backstroke (2:19.71), before fellow rookie Jacobi won the 100-yard freestyle by touching the wall first at 53.15 seconds, earning yet another NCAA “B” cut. Like her teammate O’Keeffe, Jacobi racked up two First Team and three Second Team All-Conference honors over the course of the weekend.
Next up was the 200-yard breaststroke, in which Souganidis provided Tech’s top finish by placing sixth in a time of 2:34.46. Thanks in part to other point-scoring performances from Ariadne G. Smith ’10, Clark, Caroline S. Lowenthal ’09, Katrina M. Sorensen ’08 and Kaidi Wang ’09, the Engineers overtook the Pride to slip into first-place by 10.5 points following the event.
MIT increased its lead to a full 22.5 points following the 200-yard butterfly, as Chao (2:14.96, fourth-place), Felch (2:18.73, sixth-place) and Annika S. Larsson ’08 (2:24.67, eighth-place) secured crucial finishes.
Springfield regained the lead though in the three-meter diving competition, despite Holbrook providing yet another phenomenal performance. The two-time three-meter diving national champion posted a score of 538.15 in the preliminaries, before completely shattering her own NEWMAC Open, Championship and Institute record of 553.30 just hours later by posting an astonishing 593.30 in the finals. Although MIT racked up 20 points thanks to Holbrook’s First Team All-Conference showing, the Pride’s Erin White, Melissa Nelson, Michelle Reggio and Meghan Kijanka finished fourth through seventh to secure 53 points and give Springfield a 659.5-655 lead heading into the competition’s final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay.
MIT’s quartet of Jacobi, Kaitlyn M. Creasey ’11, King and Brophy jumped out to an early lead in the event, but Springfield’s squad made up the difference to finish with the winning time of 3:34.81, besting their preliminary qualifying time by nearly 17 seconds. Tech’s team clocked in at 3:36.92, good enough for Second Team All-Conference accolades but just short of an elusive NEWMAC title.