As if majoring in philosophy, politics and economics with a sequence in data science wasn’t enough, Frank Applebaum CM ’24 is also a national champion.
His NCAA record — the fourth in Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s swim and dive history — in the 200-meter-race butterfly was essential to the team’s eighth place finish at nationals last season.
But Applebaum said he can’t take all the credit. His teammates are what make the team such a success.
The Stags and Athenas are eager to build upon last season’s successes, two senior leaders, Thayer Breazeale CM ’23 and Jameson Mitchum CM ’23 said. However, they said it won’t be easy, as some key team members have graduated. These key team members that have left include first-team All-American breaststroker Walter Limm CM ’22, who swam in both of the CMS relays that finished second at nationals, and Augusta Lewis CM ’22, also named to the first-team All-American who holds the SCIAC records in the 200m (2:01.21) and 400m (4:18.06) individual medleys.
Even with the loss of top swimmers, the team retained its tight-knit culture and hard working mentality in and out of the pool.
“Team culture is important,” Applebaum said. “It’s uncommon in college swimming to combine the men and women’s teams, but here it has helped us support one another and work toward our goals, whether individually or as a team.”
The Stags and Athenas collectively hold 67 swimmers, more than most other teams. Thayer Breazeale CM ’23, who organized the unofficial practices during the off season, sees this as a plus with the current team culture initiatives in place.
Following the leak of the 2019 “Stag Survival Guide,” which prompted accusations of “toxic masculinity,” sexism and racism on the team, CMS has worked to create a more inclusive and equitable environment. Breazeale said that the coaching staff helps add to the welcoming and supportive community.
“We normally eat meals together after practices, and we hold team culture meetings throughout the week,” he said. “[Coach] Charlie has made it his priority to have a one-on-one conversation with all of us at least once a week. He also has us fill out a Google form to gauge how we are doing mentally and physically.”
Similar to Applebuam, Breazeale manages several responsibilities outside the pool as a residential assistant and member of the mock trial team. Still, he said he’s ready to give it all to the team in his last competitive season.
“In my last season, I want to leave a strong legacy as leader of the team and soak in the last moments I’ll have with my teammates,” Breazeale said. “There should be no ‘what-ifs.’ I want to put every ounce of effort into the pool this year and see what my potential is.”
While the Stags defeated rival Pomona-Pitzer handedly in their midseason dual meet and at the SCIAC meet last year, the Athenas fell to the Sagehens in the SCIAC final.
Jamee Mitchum CM ’23 said her biggest goal for the season is winning SCIAC. She said that last year P-P was a difficult opponent, partially due to a swimmer who has now transferred. In the SCIAC tournament last year, Avery Turney SDSU ’25 — now swimming at the Division I level at San Diego State University — broke the SCIAC record in four races for Pomona.
“The most important thing is that we win SCIACs this year,” Mitchum said. “Pomona-Pitzer was virtually unbeatable last season, though we did give them a bit of a scare at the conference meet. We are ranked No. 2 in the preseason poll, but with the hardworking freshman class that we have, I think anything is possible.”
Breazeale said it is important that the team builds off of last years’ success and continues to improve.
“The one thing we can’t do is be complacent with last season’s success. We just need to keep working, and everything will fall into place.” Breazeale said.
Mitchum appeared confident that the Athenas could make up ground on the Sagehens in sprint freestyle. According to Mitchum, adding Annika Sharma CM ’26, who specializes in the 50m freestyle, will help them this year.
“Pomona-Pitzer dominated us in sprint freestyle at SCIACs. I’m really excited about our freshman class because I think they can help us compete in those events,” Mitchum said. “Annika Sharma has looked really strong in practice. She’ll definitely contribute to the team’s successes in events like the 50m freestyle and butterfly.”
The Stags and Athenas have had a strong start to the year. In the SCIAC opener on Saturday Nov. 5, against Occidental, the Stags and Athenas both won.
CMS will face their rivals, the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens, in a dual meet Dec. 2.