Sagehens Set 14 School Records at SCIAC’s

It is a time of laughter, a time of tears, and a time when Pomona-Pitzer swimming and diving culminates their season with a 72-hour blur of blindingly fast swimming and waves of anticipation and excitement. It is a time when the 57 members and three coaches of PPSD operate as one of many parts of one body, when swimming ceases to be an individual sport, and when nobody cares how ridiculous they look as they cheer on their teammates. 

On Feb. 19, “PP Swim and Dawn,” affectionately named after diver Dawn Barlow PZ ’16, completed their season. This is a tale of the 72 hours of the SCIAC Championships, Feb. 17-19, 2013 at the Splash! Pool in La Mirada, Calif.

Day 0: Saturday Feb. 16

At high noon the swimmers bid adieu to Haldeman Pool and set off for La Mirada in half a dozen 12-passenger vans. They arrived at the competition pool, and the setup of the pool was unlike anything they had ever seen. While the pool was open to soak up the Southern California sun, the pool deck was surrounded by giant white tents equipped with heaters, where the swimmers could sit between their races and leave their belongings at the bleachers that face the starting blocks. Not that anyone did much sitting around for long, anyway.

After testing the waters, the Sagehens returned to their nest, the DoubleTree hotel. Over the first of three carbo-loaded Italian food dinners, Head Coach J.P. Gowdy briefed the Sagehens on the rest of the weekend. After the prelims session in the morning, the top eight swim the event again in the final, and nine through 16 advance to the consolation heat that night.

Gowdy compared the SCIAC Championships to “cream cheese frosting on a carrot cake.” In his legendary carrot cake analogy, the swimmers had done most of the work: what was left was the best part—the cream cheese frosting on top.

The Hens then returned to their rooms to shave off all their fur and prepare for the days to come.

Day 1: Sunday, Feb. 17

Ask any Sagehen swimmer, and they will tell you with whatever remains of their voices that the most exciting events to cheer for are the relays. Riding on all the personal best swims and excitement from the prelims session that morning, the women’s 200-meter freestyle relay of Charlotte Dohrn PO ’13, Vicky Gyorffy PO ’15, Nola Shi PO ’15, and Jenna Haufler PO ’16 broke the school record in a second-place finish behind Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, the first of 14 total P-P records broken at this year’s SCIACs. 

Gyorffy finished fifth in the first individual final of the meet, the 500-meter freestyle, followed by Lexi Davis PO ’16 in seventh. J.P. Cumming PO ’13 led the Sagehen men’s 500-meter with a seventh-place finish, riding on the excitement from Austin Abrams’s PO ’16 baffling 12-second drop from his previous time during the morning session. 

In the 200-meter individual medley, Ellena Basada PO ’16 was the first Sagehen to earn a spot on the podium reserved for first-, second-, and third-place finishers with a third-place finish and school record-breaker in her first SCIAC appearance. Gailyn Portelance PO ’15 followed in sixth; Shi, in eighth. Tommy DePaoli PO ’13 and Ferrel Atkins PO ’16 held the men in the 200-meter IM, with 11th- and 13th-place finishes, respectively.

Returning from a semester broad, Alex Lincoln PO ’14 narrowly grabbed second in the 50-meter freestyle, breaking her own record in the event. Dohrn dominated the consolation heat with a ninth-place finish. Hugh Berryman PO ’15 took fifth in the frighteningly close men’s 50-meter free. 

Barlow held the Sagehens in the diving event of the day, taking eighth in the three-meter diving.

The final event of the night was the 400-meter medley relay. Under the stars, the team of Lincoln, Mari Pettibone PO ’15, Jackie Tran PO ’15, and Davis succeeded in achieving another school record-breaking, second-place finish. The men’s relay team of DePaoli, Berryman, Kevin Byrne PO ’15, and Atkins took fifth to end day one. 

Back at the hotel, the Hens grabbed a few complimentary cookies, which Gowdy said was okay as long as it made them swim faster.

Day 2: Monday, Feb. 18

While most of Claremont was getting out of their afternoon classes, the Sagehens pushed thoughts of school into the backs of their minds and started off the finals session with the 200-meter medley relay. The women’s relay of Lincoln, Hannah Robertson PO ’15, Tran, and Madeleine DeMeules PO ’14 edged out the Athenas for yet another record-breaking moment, this time taking the SCIAC title in the event. The men could not let the women have all the records, so the team of DePaoli, Berryman, Eirick Hansen PO ’15, and Atkins shattered one of their own in the 200-meter medley relay.

And then the Sagehen reign extended into the 400-meter individual medley. When Basada and Portelance took first and second in the event, the excitement spread like wildfire, almost as if the rest of the Sagehens had won the event with them. JP Cumming PO ’13 kept the men in the running with an eighth-place finish in the event. 

Dohrn led the Sagehens in the 100-meter butterfly, taking fourth. The senior domination in the butterfly continued with DePaoli finishing fifth.

Lincoln took another SCIAC title under her belt and a school record in stride in the women’s 200-meter Freestyle. Gyorffy and Johanna Rayl PO ’16 finished fifth and seventh. Byrne led the men’s 200-meter in fifth place. 

Sarah Tuggy PO ’13 and Pettibone led the Hens in the 100-meter breaststroke, finishing fourth and sixth. The Hens overwhelmed the consolation heat, with Shi taking ninth, Robertson in 10th, Brenda Iglesias PO ’15 in 15th, and Ali Valdrighi PO ’15 in 16th. Atkins narrowly missed making the top eight in the prelims but broke the only men’s individual school record in the consol heat to take ninth.

Mia Hahn PO ’16 took the podium in third in the 100-meter backstroke, followed closely by Tran in fourth. Berryman snuck into the top eight in the men’s backstroke, taking eighth place. 

The team of Gyorffy, Davis, Lincoln, and Johanna Rayl PO ’16 shattered another school record in their first place finish of the grueling 800-meter freestyle relay. The men’s relay, Cumming, Byrne, Abrams, and Jackson Rafter PO ’16, grabbed fourth. 

And there was evening, and there was Italian food and DoubleTree cookies: the second day.

Day 3: Tuesday, Feb. 19

After a tearful senior recognition ceremony, the Sagehens united under the chorus of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and dove headfirst into the final day of SCIACs. Each senior had a personally memorable final swim of their college careers. Caitlin Plefka PO ’13 shattered her personal best in the longest possible swimming event, the 1650-meter (the mile) freestyle. Cumming finished in fifth in the men’s mile with his own personal best time. Karl Kumbier PO ’13 broke the 50-second barrier in the 100-meter freestyle for his personal best. Alex Friedman PO ’13 also dropped a significant amount of time from his personal best in the 100-meter freestyle. Julia Ticus PO ’13 narrowly missed making the consol heat, with a season best time in the 200-meter backstroke. Cody Moore PO ’13 grabbed a 12th-place finish in the 200-meter backstroke. Dorhn took fourth in her best 200-meter butterfly time. DePaoli took a seventh-place finish in the 200-meter butterfly, and Sam Corfman PO ’13 also finished with a personal best time in the 200-meter butterfly. Tuggy took the podium with a second-place finish in the 200-meter breaststroke.

Seniors were not the only Sagehens to drop exciting swims. Hahn finished second in the 200-meter Backstroke, followed by Basada in fourth. 

Lincoln broke her own record again with a second-place finish in the 100-meter freestyle, supported by Shi in fourth and Gyorffy in fifth. Berryman again held the Sagehens in the sprint events with an eighth-place finish in the 100-meter freestyle.

Pettibone followed Tuggy in the 200-meter breaststroke with a third-place finish, and both Hens took the podium. Atkins and Hugo Ho PO ’16 kept the Hens in the men’s 200-meter, finishing in 10th and 14th, respectively. 

In the final relay event, Dohrn, Lincoln, Gyorffy, and Shi broke the 14th and final school record of the SCIAC Championships with a second-place finish in the 400-meter freestyle relay. 

At the conclusion of the men’s third-place 400-meter freestyle relay of Berryman, Byrne, Chris Garnatz PO ’15, and Hansen, Berryman led the pool in the one cheer that would unite all teams in SCIAC and officially conclude the Championships: “Beer and women, no more swimmin’!” 

The night was young as the joyous Hens returned to campus, and all 57 members and three coaches circled together at Haldeman Pool to end the season as it began. Each senior spoke about the place PPSD held in their hearts, and before long, the team was a mess of hugs, tears, and laughter. The tears did not last long, as Poolside Manners awaited the entrance of the Sagehen swimmers. 

And that is how you make a carrot cake. 

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