If you spot swimmers driving to class this week, don’t be alarmed. The Pomona-Pitzer swimming and diving team takes their taper quite seriously.
With just a week and a half left until the SCIAC Championships at the Splash Pool in La Mirada, Calif., from February 17-19, the Sagehens are in full recovery mode. During the three weeks of taper, the swimmers cut back on the number and intensity of their practices, meaning no more practices at the crack of dawn and throughout the rest of the day.
Under the direction of second-year head coach J.P. Gowdy and first-year assistant coaches Sara Hollar and Christian Woods, the Sagehens have flown through their best season yet, led by captains Sam Corfman PO ’13, J.P. Cumming PO ’13, Tommy DePaoli PO ’13, Charlotte Dohrn PO ’13, Alex Friedman PO ’13, Karl Kumbier PO ’13, Cody Moore PO ’13, Caitlin Plefka PO ’13, Julia Ticus PO ’13, and Sarah Tuggy PO ’13. The women’s team currently holds a 7-1 SCIAC dual meet record, securely in second place behind the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas. The PPSD men rank third behind the CMS Stags and the University of Redlands Bulldogs.
Unexpectedly, the highlight of the PPSD women’s season thus far may be their 152-146 loss to CMS the first weekend back from winter break. Six points is the narrowest margin any team in SCIAC has lost to the dominant CMS swimmers in recent history. Last season, the Athenas overpowered the Sagehens 220-73. With a solid core of returning upperclassmen and the addition of a stellar group of first-years, the Sagehens pose a new threat to the Athenas.
Back from a semester abroad, last year’s 100- and 200-yard freestyle SCIAC Champion Alex Lincoln PO ’14 continued her reign over the sprint freestyle events, having won the 50 and 100 freestyle against CMS. Vicky Gyorffy PO ’15 thrived in the daunting 1000 freestyle, 200 freestyle, and 100 freestyle combo, achieving a win in the 200.
The biggest moments for the Sagehens in the CMS meet came from the backstroke trio, Mia Hahn PO ’16, Jackie Tran PO ’15, and Ellena Basada PO ’16, who took first, second, and third in the 100 backstroke respectively. Basada and Hahn were first and second in the 200 backstroke respectively. The lone Sagehen diver Dawn Barlow PZ ’16 took the win in the one-meter dive and second in the three-meter.
On the men’s team, the season has been marked by their 154-132 and 153-141 victories over the University of La Verne Leopards and California Lutheran University Kingsmen respectively. Despite starting each meet with a deficit due to the lack of Sagehen divers, the Hens quickly bounced back following the first relay event and the distance freestyle events. The distance freestyle trio of Cumming, Andy Wright PZ ’16, and Austin Abrams PO ’16 took 1-2-3 in the 1650 freestyle against Cal Lutheran, and Wright-Cumming-Abrams took 1-2-3 in the 1000 freestyle against La Verne.
The Sagehens took other 1-2-3 finishes throughout the Cal Lutheran meet, notably the Kevin Byrne PO ’15-Jackson Rafter PO ’16-Chris Garnatz PO ’15 finish in the 200 freestyle and the DePaoli-Will Thorson PO ’16-Corfman trio in the 200 butterfly. DePaoli also placed first in the 100 and 200 butterfly against LaVerne.
Hugh Berryman PO ’15 claimed the sprint events for the Sagehens, winning the 50 and 100 freestyle in both contests. Peter Derdeyn PO ’16 took second in the La Verne meet for a 1-2 Sagehen finish in the sprint freestyle. Despite losing first in the 200 backstroke, 500 freestyle, and 200 individual medley events to the Leopards, the Sagehen depth took 2-3-4 in those events to prevent loss in the point total.
“The team has been great in big situations at meets this year,” Gowdy said, highlighting the women’s CMS meet and the men’s wins over Cal Lutheran and La Verne. “When they know it’s an important and close meet, we’ve been at our best.”
The Hens utilize their enthusiasm and energy both in and out of the pool. For every race, there’s always a group of Sagehens at the end of the lane to cheer on and support those in the water.
“[The team] really seems to thrive in and enjoy the hard work of practice and the social aspect of being team members,” Gowdy said.
The Sagehens’ ability to swim fast under pressure, get behind each other’s lanes to cheer for their races, and enjoy the competition will make them shine at the SCIAC Championships this year.
“SCIACs will be fun, exciting, and rewarding,” Gowdy said. “I’m confident that we’ll continue to do what we’ve done all year: Have fun and swim fast.”