Swim team thrives in competition over break

Big Green men's and women's swimming and diving had a busy winter break, seeing record-breaking performances in their first two contests. The women defeated the University of Vermont in a home meet on Nov. 28 and then joined the men in the Brown University Invitational in Providence from Nov. 30 to Dec. 1. Both teams then traveled to Florida for a twelve-day training trip to prepare for the rest of their season.

The Big Green women's swimming and diving team (2-1) started strong, ending their first home meet of the season with a 185-58 final score against the Catamounts (8-3, 1-1 AEC). The meet yielded impressive results, including a new pool record in the 400-yard medley relay and a 200-yard freestyle relay time only .39 seconds away from the school record.

"It was a great chance for us to get back together after Thanksgiving and get some fast swimming in before the Brown [University] meet," Lindsay Tyler '15 said. "The men's team came to cheer us on and it was a lot of fun."

With little time to rest, the women hit the road and joined the men's team (1-1) in Providence, R.I. on Nov. 30 for a three-day meet at Brown (4-1, 3-2). They joined formidable competition, including Ivy League rivals Princeton University, Columbia University and Yale University, as well as the United States Military Academy, Rider University and the University of New Hampshire. Although all teams competed against each other in the invitational, the Big Green was also simultaneously competing against Princeton (4-0, 5-0) and Brown in a dual meet.

Both teams ended the three-day competition on a high note. The men finished in second place behind the Tigers, and the women finished in fourth place behind Princeton, Yale (2-0, 3-0) and Brown. The meet marked the third consecutive time that the Big Green men defeated the Bears in the last three years.

Nejc Zupan '14 made Dartmouth history at the meet with his NCAA A-time of 1:53.87 in the 200-yard breaststroke.

With this impressive showing, he set a new school record and an Ivy League record, as well as a chance to participate in the NCAA Championships in March.

Zupan is the first Big Green swimmer to gain a spot in the NCAA Championships since 1980.

Over the course of the weekend, Zupan also attained three NCAA B-standards in the 400-yard IM, 100-yard breaststroke and 200-yard IM. Ultimately, the men's team set a total of nine new school records over the course of the meet.

The women's team also performed strongly, with many swimmers earning season bests or personal bests. Highlights included a new school record in the 200-yard freestyle and the second fastest 100-yard freestyle time this season.

"We had some really deep competition," Erin Henn '14, a member of the women's team, said. "There were multiple heats in each event, so everyone had someone around their speed to race. It was really great to see people going their best times or close to their best times."

Because of the longer winter interim this year, both teams were able to "shave and taper" before the meet and wear their faster "laser" suits while racing, something that they usually reserve for the Ivy League Championships in March.

Wearing their suits helped the team preview the performance level they will strive for later this season, Henn said.

"The meet was a good way for us to preview what we're capable of doing at the end of the season and give the work we did in the Fall term a sort of culminating experience," Henn said. As the Brown Invitational brought the fall swimming season to a close, both teams embarked on an intense training trip to Florida.

The men's and women's teams swam two intensive practices each day, but spent their downtime enjoying excursions and participating in team traditions like the annual secret Santa gift exchange.

"The training trip is really the time when we work the hardest out of the entire year," co-captain William Derdeyn '13 said. "I think we're all in extremely good shape now and a more cohesive unit as a team, which will help us to have a better attitude and be more encouraging towards each other."

Following their training trip, the swimmers returned home for a brief break before coming back to Dartmouth on Dec. 28 to continue training before winter term. This weekend, the Big Green will begin its winter season in Pennsylvania in a dual meet against Yale and the University of Pennsylvania. Last year, the men's team lost to Penn (2-2, 2-2) and Yale, but then defeated Penn in the Ivy League Championships.

For their part, the women beat Penn by only one point, and are hoping to win more comfortably the next time they meet.

"We're expecting to have a very close meet between us and Penn and possibly Yale," Derdeyn said. "I think we have a good shot as long as we all swim well."

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