CMS Dominant in Seniors’ Last Meet at Axelrod Pool

The Stag and Athena swimming and diving teams ended their home seasons in dominating fashion on Saturday, defeating University of Redlands 197-46 on the men’s side and 172-69 on the women’s side, moving both teams to 7-0 records in SCIAC. Out of 26 total races in the meet, the Stags won all 13 and the Athenas took 11 out of 13. 

Four members of the swim and dive team were triple winners on that day, including Helen Liu CM ’13, Michele Kee CM ’13, Matthew Williams CM ’17, and Alex Poltash CM ’16. On the women’s side, both Liu and Kee were part of the winning 200-yard freestyle and 400-yard medley relays. Liu, a freestyle sprinter, also picked up a win in the 50-yard freestyle event, posting a season-best time of 24.56. Kee added a win in the 400-yard individual medley, finishing in a time of 4:35.83. Williams and Poltash also added two wins, swimming together on the 200 free and 400 medley relay, while Williams also won the 200-yard backstroke in 1:54.85 and Poltash took first in the 100-yard freestyle, going 47.15. 

For the 14 senior members of the team, this meet marked the last home meet of their swimming careers at Axelrod Pool. Before the meet, the seniors were honored poolside in an emotional ceremony.

“Senior day was bittersweet,” Bryanna Moore CM ’14 said. “Having the end of the season and my career be so near reminds of how special all my teammates are.” 

Although the seniors on the team might be ending their career soon, the Stags and Athenas have a strong group of underclassmen on the team. Maddy Gebhard CM ’16 noted the importance of the first-years to the team. Led by first-year stars like Kelly Ngo CM ’17 and Williams, the team is confident in its young members.

“It’s not every year where you have a freshman class that brings so much excitement to the team and boosts the general morale,” Gebhard said. “We all love it.” 

After the senior day ceremony finished, the Stags and Athenas quickly turned their energy toward the pool. In the first event of the day, the 400-yard medley relay, the Stags took both first and second place, while the Athenas swept the event, winning first, second, and third. 

The team also had a very strong showing on the springboard. James Stevick CM ’15 and Jay Kabellis CM ’15 went one-two in the three-meter competition, as did Carli Lessard CM ’17 and Mary Lynn Clark CM ’17. Stevick and Lessard also placed first in the one-meter competition. After pulling away with an early lead, the team never looked back and held onto a comfortable lead the entire day. 

Another notable race was the men’s 200-yard backstroke, in which the Stags won first through fifth place with Williams, Cory Johnson HM ’16, Graham Spurzem CM ’17, Joe Hinton CM ’16, and Martin Sartorius CM ’14. 

While 5C campuses laid dormant in the first three weeks of January, the team was training daily, and won all four of their SCIAC meets. These three weeks, known as “training camp,” are notorious for being some of the hardest weeks of training in the pool.

When asked about the mentality of the team during training camp, Maya Kale CM ’16 said, “We’re working our butts off every second of every day, where all we do is eat, sleep, and swim. The mentality [during training camp] is that it will all pay off the end.”

Some additional highlights from January include five pool records broken and a special distance meet against Division II California Baptist University, in which the team swims unusually long-distance events.

Next up for the Stags and Athenas is the rivalry meet against Pomona-Pitzer at Haldeman Pool on Saturday. Last year, the Athenas edged out the Sagehen women by only 4 points, while the Stags pulled out a strong victory. For the CMS team, the meet against P-P represents their toughest competition all year for both the men and women.

“This is one of the first meets of the season where every race will be close, and that’s what makes it fun and helps us prepare for SCIACS,” Kale said.

Following Saturday’s meet, CMS will look toward the SCIAC championship meet on Feb. 21 and 22. 

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