MEDFORD - Tufts Women's Swimming & Diving will look to build upon what they started last year when their 2018-19 season begins on Sunday as they host NESCAC rival Middlebury College at Hamilton Pool.
Head coach Adam Hoyt's Jumbos surged to a fourth-place finish at the conference championship last season, the team's best since 2013. Tufts improved their performance from the 2017 NESCAC Championship by 323 points after they had finished eighth the year before with a score of 700.5.
|Colleen Doolan was a finalist in five NESCAC events last year|
Tufts' success came through their strong depth, as they had only one top-three finish at the meet. Senior Colleen Doolan and sophomore Jackie Crater both qualified for five finals at NESCAC's last season. Sophomore Sasha Fong competed in four, while sophomore Lily Kurtz swam in three. Sophomore Abby Claus and sophomore Sook-Hee Evans reached two finals apiece and junior Grace Goetcheus, sophomore Amber Chong, and senior tri-captain Sydney Nasson all qualified for one each.
With continued progress, the Jumbos will look to be a bigger factor in the league this year and qualify more competitors for the NCAA meet.
"I'd like us to have high energy and positivity in everything we do," Hoyt said. "Our season is short so we need to make the most out of every moment we have together to get better. If we can maintain that mentality and confidence, we'll be very good at the end of the season."
Tufts broke three school records at the NESCAC meet last March and three of those performers have returned. Doolan, Crater and Fong were part of the foursome that set a new mark in the 400 medley relay (3:52.00). Fong set one on her own in the 50 butterfly (25.47). Crater also swam a Tufts standard of 2:03.43 in the 200 backstroke earlier in the season at the MIT Invitational.
Additionally, Doolan is the school record-holder in the 200 butterfly (2:03.77) from 2016, while Goetcheus is also in the record book for the 100 backstroke (57.43) and 200 individual medley (2:06.75).
The Jumbos bring back nine seniors, eight juniors, and 15 sophomores overall. To that they have added 13 freshmen. From this group, Coach Hoyt is hoping to see more versatility.
"I think we have a lot of talent and I'd like to spread it out over multiple events," he said. "I'll also look to see them put together a great MIT Invite and then build up to a great NESCACs and NCAAs."
Tufts' depth looks especially good in the butterfly and backstroke events, as well as with five divers. Senior Caroline McCormick, Crater and Goetcheus lead the backstroke group. In the butterfly, senior tri-captain Madeline Lee and classmates Doolan, Alexandra Good and Tessa Garces lead a group that also includes Fong, Claus and sophomore Katherine Sweetser. Chong, the NESCAC scorer, is at the front of a young diving group that includes a junior, two sophomores and two freshmen.
The senior class has several freestylers with tri-captain Ailish Dougherty, Doolan, Jessica Fan, Good, Christiana Hug and Nasson, while a number of others will also be heavy contributors in these events. The breaststroke group is young with sophomores Kurtz and Kate Brown the most accomplished at this point.
"I think our women's team is as deep as it's been in a long time and that depth should be a big strength of ours," Hoyt said.