CMS Makes Splash at SCIACs, Sets Sights on NCAA Championships

Proud CMS Athenas celebrate their win at the SCIAC Championship win on Feb. 18. (Courtesy of Krystal Sung)

The season came to a perfect end for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps swim and dive team. Both the women’s and men’s team captured the SCIAC championships this past weekend, culminating in strong performances for both the Athenas and the Stags on the final day of competition on Saturday, Feb. 18. For the Stags, this marked the team’s 10th consecutive SCIAC title and 37th overall, while the Athenas won their 18th overall title. After seeing their 13-year run as champions come to an end in 2016, the Athenas reclaimed the crown this season.

“To be able to come back and win this year was very exciting and very meaningful, particularly for the seniors who have devoted so much to the program over the course of their careers,” said head coach Charles Griffiths when asked about the significance of the women’s win.

The women entered the final day of competition with a 255-point lead over closest competitors, rival Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens, before extending their lead to finish with a relatively comfortable 305-point margin.

“[We had] a lot of depth on the women’s side,” said Griffiths. “We just had several events where we had three All-Conference swimmers out of three spots, and that was cool."

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One of the top swimmers during the championships was Lizzie Carrade CM ’18, who broke the meet record in the 1650-yard freestyle with a time of 17:09.26.

“It was really exciting for me personally, but at the same time, I like to think of it more in terms of a success for the team, because a big part of swimming for CMS is you’re not just swimming for yourself,” said Carrade, when asked about what it meant for her to swim such a strong race in the conference championships.

Griffiths also pointed to Jocelyn Crawford CM ’20, who won two individual races, finished second in another, and was a part of four winning relays over the course of the championships, as one of “many great performances” in the Athenas’ overall success.

Looking back at the success that they have had all season, Carrade credits the dedication and enthusiasm that pushed the Athenas to be the best that they possibly could. 

“I think we have a really positive team atmosphere on our team. It’s really fun at the championships to watch everyone, behind everyone’s lane, behind the blocks, cheering and rooting each other on, and being very encouraging and supportive," Carrade said.

The men had a more difficult path to their championship title. They entered the final day facing the slimmest of margins, trailing Sixth Street rivals P-P by two points.

“We knew it was going to be extremely close going into the finish, and we were just fighting for every point, and we were fortunate that it worked out," said Griffiths. The Stags performed very well on the final day, ending the championship meet with a tight eight-point margin over the second place Sagehens.

The Stags also saw several exceptional individual performances, including Kendall Hollimon CM ’20, who, according to Griffiths, “completely dominated the boards” in both of his diving events, winning both by over 100 points.

Matthew Williams CM ’17 also put in a great performance in his final SCIAC events, breaking a conference record in the 100-yard butterfly and winning his fourth consecutive titles in both the 100 and 200-yard backstroke events. Another notable swim came from Ben Culberson CM ’20, who despite finishing in second place in his race, set a CMS record in the mile freestyle race, finishing with a time of 15:33.89.

The Stags and Athenas will culminate their fantastic seasons at the NCAA Championships in March. Saturday, Feb. 24, is the diving regional championship meet, which will determine who advances to the championship. Five Athenas and four Stags will represent CMS at the Championships this year.