‘Fight to the finish’: CMS, P-P swim teams gear up for another SCIAC showdown

A woman is suspended in the air after jumping off a diving board, with her legs pointed straight in front of her and her arms pointed out to the side. A diving board is below her and there is a large building in the background.
Eleanor Mackey PO ’22 executes a dive at the CMS swim and dive Invite Feb. 8. (Max Weirauch • The Student Life)

With the SCIAC Championships fast approaching, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Pomona-Pitzer swim and dive teams are making their final preparations and tune-ups for the conference finals. 

The swimming portion of the championship will be hosted in Commerce, California Feb. 20 to 23, while the diving will be at CMS’s Axelrood Pool Feb. 15 and 16.

The Stags and Athenas are both looking to avenge losses to P-P in the SCIAC finals each of the last two years — the P-P men won their first two SCIAC titles ever in 2018 and ’19, while the P-P women have won three of the last four championships.

Both P-P and CMS had the chance to scrimmage against each other at the CMS Invitational Feb. 8, where they compared their fitness levels and made final adjustments.

The CMS teams are both ranked No. 1 in the SCIAC; CMS’ squads are undefeated in SCIAC dual meet competition, while the P-P teams have only one loss each — to their foes from across the street. 

Team culture is secret for success for PPSD

P-P took home the mixed gender 200-yard medley relay title with a time of 1:38.65 Saturday. The relay included Allison Liu PO 21, Lukas Menkhoff PO 21, Gregory Hayton PZ 21 and Haley Kirtland PO ’23.

Sagehen swimmers said the mixed relay’s success epitomizes the close connection between the P-P men’s and women’s swim teams.

“Even though we compete in separate events, we all spend time together, and we are one team,” said Katherine Lauerman PO ’20, who competes in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle.

Will Abele PO ’20, a former All-American who competed in five events at the NCAA Championships last year, echoed this sentiment.

“The [swim and dive] team is one of the few teams on campus that is men and women combined,” Abele said. “We practice together, race together and I think that is a real advantage for PPSD. We both support each other really well, and that helps us both compete better.”

P-P’s upperclassmen performed well at the CMS Invite, with Andrew Garcia PZ 21 capturing the men’s 400-yard individual medley with a time of 4:12.67, Kate Denend PO ’21 winning the women’s 100-yard freestyle in 54.42, Denise Dao PZ ’21 placing first in the women’s 50-yard freestyle in 24.91 and Liam O’Shea PO ’20 winning the men’s 200-yard individual medley with a time of 1:55.86.

The first-years displayed equally impressive performances, with Abby Smith PO ’23 winning the women’s 400-yard IM with a time of 4.42, Ben Cote PO ’23 winning the men’s 100-yard butterfly with a time of 52.26 and Tag Curwen PO ’23 securing first place in the men’s 100-yard freestyle with a time of 47.23.

“It was great to watch all the first-years grow and come together as a class,” Lauerman said. “I think there’s so much potential and talent in every single one of them.”

In diving, the Sagehen women are led by Ruby Epstein PO ’22 and Emma van der Veen PO ’21, who each finished first in the one-meter and three-meter dives, respectively, at the CMS Invite. Jem Stern PO ’22 leads the male divers — he finished second in both the one and three-meter dives at CMS.

CMSSD looks dominant before SCIACs, hoping to take title back

The CMS men’s and women’s swim and dive teams have high hopes for the SCIAC Championships after posting successful regular seasons, with both teams placing first in their respective conferences.

“This is the strongest our team has been in my time here by far,” Daniel Hayon CM ’21 said. “We are in a good spot before the SCIACs.”

Anne Jang CM ’21 spoke about the mentality necessary for performing at the conference meet.

“We need to maintain our focus,” Jang said. “We need to transfer our excitement for SCIACs into focus and intensity as our practices get shorter.”

The CMS Invite gave swimmers a chance to earn spots for scoring teams or to get better seeds at the conference meet.

At the meet, the Stags had strong showings in the freestyle events, with Ben Culberson CM ’20 winning the men’s 500-yard freestyle in 4:38.74, Hayon taking first in the men’s 50-yard freestyle in 21.62 and Thayer Breazeale CM ’23 placing first in the men’s 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:43.42.

The invitational proved “especially important for long distance swimmers, with Mia Syme CM ’21 and Gracey Hiebert HM ’23 both moving up some spots,” Jang said.

Hiebert won the women’s 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:09.22, slightly edging out Lauerman’s 5:09.34, and Syme won the women’s 1,650-yard freestyle with a time of 18:01.36.

In the mixed gender 200-yard freestyle, the joint men’s and women’s team took first place after initially losing the mixed gender 200-yard medley relay.

The CMS team showed off many of its key swimmers, including Andreas Roeseler HM ’21, Marco Conati HM ’21, Ava Sealander SC ’22 and Natalia Orbach-Mandel HM ’21, defeating P-P with a time of 1:30.42. 

On the boards, Kendall Holliman CM ’20, who finished third at NCAAs last season in the three-meter dive, will look to sweep the men’s diving events at SCIACS, as he did last year. For the Athenas, three first-years — Makenna Parkinson HM ’23, Kimiko Adler CM ’23 and Karena Klinkenberg SC ’23 — will have a chance to add to CMS’s team point total with strong diving performances.

Both the Stags and Athenas are the favorites to take home the SCIAC titles. But CMS is wary of the Sagehens — especially after falling to them the last two years — and the squads know the conference championships will be tight.

“It’s going to be a fight to the finish,” Hayon said. “We are very evenly matched at this point, and I think they have a really strong team this year. At the end of the day, it’s going to be who performs the best the day of the SCIACs.”

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