BY KARI FOSSUM ’20
Mount Holyoke’s swimming and diving team traveled to Cambridge, MA for four days of competition at the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Swimming & Diving Championships, hosted by MIT.
Competition got underway with the 800-freestyle relay on Thursday. The Lyons sent two teams to contest this event. Ashton Bliss ’21, Naomi Brown ’21, Bri Groves ’19 and Claire Beckett ’18 comprised the first of the teams, posting a seventh-place finish. The second team consisted of Courtney Dunham ’21, Riley Hicks ’21 Natalie Burkett ’20 and Amy Lim ’18. They delivered a very strong performance and placed 17th. Friday was a busy day, kicking off with 10th overall in the 200-yard freestyle relay by Lyons ‘A’ (Tamara Mukulu ’21, Hicks, Caitlyn Richmond ’21 and Topaz Mukulu ’18) as well as 19th in the consolation final by Lyons ‘B’ (Bliss, Burkett, Delany Berry ’19 and Lim).
The individual events began on Friday, with Bliss taking 25th in the 500-yard freestyle and Beckett 20th in the 200-yard individual medley consolation final. Divers Samantha Nemivant ’20, Katie Kolozsvari ’21 and Elise Malvicini ’21 finished in the ninth, 16th and 20th, respectively. The day concluded with the 400-yard medley relay; Brown, Tamara Mukulu, Beckett and Groves sped to ninth in the championship final. Dunham, Gwen Evans, Bliss, and Hicks (all four first-years) delivered 18th in the consolation final.
Brown kicked off the third day of competition placing 16th in the 100-yard butterfly. Hicks followed with a strong finish in the 200-yard freestyle to post 34th. The 100-yard breaststroke competitors were up next; Groves and Beckett swam to 13th and 21st in a tight race. Richmond, Dunham and Allyn Dunlap ’21 followed in the 100-yard backstroke. Rounding out the day were the Lyon’s two teams that took part in the 200-yard medley. Burkett, Groves, Brown and Topaz Mukulu gave an outstanding effort for seventh, and the second team consisting of Dunham, Evans, Tamara Mukulu, and Richmond performed equally strongly for 18th.
Sunday saw a strong finish by the Lyons to claim eighth place overall. Bliss and Burkett added to the point tally in the 1650-meter freestyle, finishing in 14th and 22nd. Co-captains Beckett and Berry were up next, finishing strong in the 21st and 31st positions.
“Personally, it can be difficult to see a 19-week season all come down to the results of a four-day meet, but in the end, I was happy about my individual performances,” said co-captain Beckett. “I set a solid number of lifetime-bests and overcame some mental hurdles that have affected me for the majority of my swimming career.” Hicks and Dunham put down great efforts in the 100-meter freestyle, as did Groves in the 200-meter breaststroke. Brown and Bliss were neck-and-neck in the 200-meter butterfly, taking home 18th and 20th for the Lyons. Tamara Mukulu, Brown, Hicks and Beckett wrapped up the swimming portion of the competition with a ninth-place finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay championship final. Mount Holyoke’s divers also powered through their final day of competition, with Nemivant posting seventh and Kolozsvari 15th in the 1-meter diving event.
“Our divers also had a great meet, with all three placing on the 1 and 3-meter boards,” said Head Coach Dave Allen. “This has been a great team to work with and everyone has been extremely supportive of each other, which made it not only a successful weekend, but fun one as well.”
Mount Holyoke swimming & diving performed consistently throughout the season leading up to the NEWMAC Championships. The team is comprised of returning sophomores, juniors and seniors as well as a number of first-years, including Brown. “Going into all my races seeing my teammates getting excited reminded me of why I chose to swim for Mount Holyoke,” said Brown, “because in a sport that has the potential to be an incredibly individual sport, the swimming and diving team chooses to support one another.”
The prevalence of rookies on the roster at the championships combined with the exceptionally strong performances of older students bodes well for the future success of the team. “My last ever swimming event was a relay, alongside three first-years,” said Beckett. “There was no cooler way to have been able to pass the torch to the next generation. Being able to swim my last ever race alongside three teammates whose collegiate careers are just beginning was a truly special moment, and I couldn’t ask for better teammates to share that moment with.”