The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps swim and dive teams took on the Pomona-Pitzer squads in an exciting competition Feb. 7. Eleven Axelrood Pool records were broken as the Stags beat the P-P men 191-107, while the Athenas won 188-112.
Given the Stags’ improvement over the course of the season, the Hens were prepared for an intense meet. Head coach J.P. Gowdy knew the limits of his team would be tested against CMS.
“We were expecting to compete, not just show up and race, and I think we did a nice job of that,” Gowdy said. “Hats off to [CMS], because they were ready for this meet today. We did some things really well. I think we lost some close races, and they showed their strengths today.”
CMS head coach Charlie Griffith’s expectations were focused toward the upcoming SCIAC conference meet, and he was impressed with his team’s results.
“We were hoping for season best times,” Griffith said. “This is the last dual meet of the season, and we should be prepped to swim really well, and we saw pretty good performances.”
The meet opened with great competition in the 200-yard medley relay, with both the men’s and women’s teams struggling to beat one another. For the CMS relay teams, the fierce competition led to a .34-second drop in Axelrood pool’s men’s records and a 1.8-second drop in the women’s record. Kelly Ngo CM ’17 earned SCIAC Female Athlete of the Week honors for her part in the record-breaking relay as well as three other winning events.
The CMS men’s relay team came in .84 seconds ahead of the P-P men, and although the P-P men lost in the opening event, breaststroker Ferrel Atkins PO’16 was impressed by his team’s competitive spirit during the relay.
“There was a lot of energy at the start, especially at the medley relay,” Atkins said. “There were some really fast splits. Some of the guys were right at the fastest they’ve been all season. Getting pumped up with [the relay team] and swimming for them is so much fun.”
Atkins also swam in the 100-yard breaststroke, in which competition was tight for both the men and the women. Atkins placed third behind breaststrokers Kyle Dalrymple PZ ’17 and Zach Alleva CM ’16 in an intense swim in which the competitors finished within tenths of a second. The women’s 100-yard breaststroke, won by Emily McKinnon CM ’17, finished with similar results as the second through sixth spots finished within a two-second time frame.
In one of the most exciting races of the meet, the men’s 200-yard freestyle, the top three finishers touched the wall within a 0.06 second window. Freestyler Cameron Whiting CM ’15 took the victory, followed by fellow freestylers Alex Poltash CM ’16 and Mark Hallman PO ’18. Whiting’s teammate, freestyler Alex Mendoza CM ’15, commented on the incredible nature of the result.
“I don’t think you’ll go to any DIII conference and see three guys throw down 1:42 lows at the same time in the same heat, so that was spectacular to see,” he said.
Mendoza himself won the 1000- and 500-yard freestyles and broke the latter’s pool record. Mendoza attributed his team’s performance to their team dynamic during practice.
“[Our] competition comes from the guys that we share a lane with at practice so we can continually race and know the ins and outs of training with that person,” Mendoza said. “It’s not that we go to meets and race, it’s that every single practice is racing. I know that 500 record; it’s always been us going against ourselves. It’s always been the result of somebody who’s around you.”
Whiting and Mendoza explained further how CMS’s dynamic played into Saturday’s win. According to the two, P-P’s consistent improvement and the rivalry between the two teams challenged CMS to unite.
“I think we deal well with adversity as
a team and with a little bit of pressure,” Mendoza said.
usually have pressure as a team to perform,” Whiting added. “So even just the little amount of
pressure from smack talk we had going into [Saturday’s] meet, you know they’re
our rivals, makes us come together and [perform] way better than we ever have, which
we saw at the meet.”
This ‘coming together’ accounted for five pool records by the Athenas and six by the Stags, across multiple events. Mendoza highlighted the significance of this outcome.
“I don’t think anyone’s super concerned about pool records,” Mendoza said. “However, I think that the team breaking  of them at one time is really indicative of something. To see a lot of [record] swims out of a lot of different disciplines, like the mile and the 1000 [free] and the 500 [free] down to the 100 [free], was really cool to see all of the athletes step up.”
P-P and CMS will take to the pool one last time in the SCIAC Championships Feb. 19 in Commerce, Calif.