WELLESLEY, Massachusetts, February 17. BEHIND victories in the 400-yard individual medley, 200-yard freestyle and 800-yard freestyle relay, MIT leapfrogged Springfield College into first-place after day two of competition in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championships. The Engineers, with 501.5 points, lead by the narrowest of margins over the Pride, which has amassed 499 points thus far. Both schools are well ahead of third-place host Wellesley College, which has 432 points.
Tech's biggest individual highlight came in the 200-yard freestyle, which junior Sasha Brophy won with an NCAA "B" cut time of 1:55.61. After falling behind by over a second in the first 100 yards, Brophy roared back into the race by making up more than a second in each of the final two legs to ultimately win the race by a wide margin.
Sophomore Nicole O'Keeffe picked up the Cardinal and Gray's other individual victory in the 400-yard individual medley, touching the wall ahead of the competition at 4:40.68. Teammate Katherine Thornton made it an even more important event for the Engineers by nabbing third-place with a time of 4:45.70.
The 800-yard freestyle relay team of Thornton, O'Keeffe, Brophy and Abby Clark picked up MIT's other win, outdistancing their closest competitors by almost ten seconds with a time of 7:54.97.
Freshman Stephanie Brown picked up a pair of victories in the "B" finals, first as a member of the 200-yard medley relay team along with Thornton, Ellie Souganidis and Jackee Nowicke (1:54.11), and then as an individual in the 100-yard backstroke (1:04.20).
Also notching important points for the Engineers were Souganidis and freshman Priya Parayanthal, who finished fourth and sixth in the 100-yard butterfly, respectively, and the 200-yard medley relay team of O'Keeffe, Parayanthal, Jen Chao and Stephanie Sidelko, which grabbed a third-place finish.
Head coach Dawn Gerken has been delighted with the way her team has rallied around each other in the midst of a draining three-day event.
"With three full days of swimming and diving, this is an extremely exhausting competition," she said. "The thing that truly impressed me today was the fact that our athletes, despite being mentally and physically tired, stepped up and swam for each other. Everyone showed a lot of heart because they wanted so badly to come through for their teammates."
Wheaton College's 200-yard medley relay team of Iris Meehan, Emily Sweatt, Abby Pratt and Meg Miller set the only conference record of the day with an NCAA "B" cut time of 1:49.65.
The competition will come to a close with the final seven events tomorrow evening.
"Hopefully we'll have another big day tomorrow," Gerken said. "Springfield will be tough to hold off, but we're certainly going to give them a run for their money."