Swimming and diving teams wrap up season, prepare for Nationals

As the swimmers sped into their last turn, the crowd roared. MIT parents and fans shot to their feet, screaming and cheering, as Lucas R. Cummings ’10 pulled ahead of Coast Guard’s Brian McGuiness and outtouched him by 0.25 seconds. The Engineers’ victory in the final 400-meter freestyle relay capped an amazing season for the MIT Varsity Swimming and Diving Teams.

The women led the way at Wellesley, capturing second place out of ten teams in the NEWMAC Championships. The team shattered five NEWMAC and seven Institute records, secured three NCAA A-cut and eight NCAA B-cut times, and achieved many season-best times. Notably, Amy E. Jacobi ’11 broke MIT’s 50-meter freestyle record with a speedy 23.89, while Anna S. Kokensparger ’13 won all three of her individual events with record times, contributed to three relay wins, and earned the Rookie of the Meet title. Seniors Rachel E. Price ’10, Ashley E. Pinchinat ’10, and Ariadne G. Smith ’10 ended their collegiate swimming careers with Top 16 finishes in the 200 backstroke, 400 freestyle relay, and 200 breaststroke respectively. Gymnast-turned-diver Elizabeth L. Stavely ’11 also surpassed expectations, nailing 7th–place finishes on both boards. In addition, teammates Kristie L. D’Ambrosio ’10, Elise A. Stave ’13, Lauren P. Cipicchio ’10 and Diana LaScala-Gruenewald ’11 placed in the top 16 divers to score points for MIT.

Not to be outdone, the men’s team stepped up to win their second consecutive NEWMAC Championship at Wheaton. The team showed its talent and depth in every event, with five swimmers placing Top 8 in the 200 IM, 100 butterfly, and 200 backstroke. Remarkably, the men also earned 32 NCAA B-cut times and won 14 out of 18 swimming events. Notably, Timothy J. Stumbaugh ’12 achieved a NEWMAC and Institute record in the 400 IM and Michael J. Dobson ‘11 lowered his season-best times to pull off wins in the 500 and 1650 freestyle. Additionally, seniors Cummings, Rastislav Racz ’10, Jeffrey Y. Zhou ’10, and Nicholas A. Souza ’10 ended their last NEWMAC Championships with wins and season best times.

The MIT swimming and diving teams have come a long way in the past season. Under the persistent attention of head coach Dawn Dill and several assistant coaches, the athletes have discovered their great potential, both individually and as a team. At each NEWMAC meet, the men and women cheered each other on and provided inspiration and support.

“The girls’ team really pumped us up,“ recalls David C. Parell ’12. “By the time it was our turn, we were dying to get up and race!”

Teammates and coaches have also worked toward healthy eating and sleeping habits, additional weight training, stroke clinics, and balancing MIT’s workload with training. Partly because of these efforts, 17 swimmers and divers are part of the winter NEWMAC Academic All-Conference team, an honor that requires a minimum GPA of 4.35.

Through hard work both in the pool and out, five women and a record high of 10 men have earned the chance to compete at NCAA Division III Championships at the end of March. Stay tuned — the Engineers are ready to rock.