Anna Schwab PO ’16 took a deep breath and looked out at the serene water. On this bright Southern California day, the scene at Haldeman looked more like a pool party than a swim meet—besides the tangible tension permeating the air, that is.
The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Pomona-Pitzer swimming and diving teams, the top two teams in the league, were coming head to head on this sunny day. And for some of the swimmers, it was the last time they’d be competing in the Haldeman pool.
“My parents were reminding me [of that] before my last race,” said Schwab with a melancholy laugh. “They said, ‘Anna, this is your last race ever in Haldeman,’ and I said, ‘You can’t say that, Mom!’”
With faces painted orange and blue, the seniors graciously accepted the gifts prepared for them by their teammates, the hugs of friends and coaches, and the enthusiastic applause from the audience.
Meanwhile, the CMS swimmers, who celebrated their senior day last weekend, watched and stretched on the other side of the pool. “I was very excited to compete,” Alex Poltash CM ’16 said. “Knowing that it was going to be the last time I would get to swim [against P-P], I wanted to make sure I performed well.”
Poltash completed that goal, winning the 200-free and contributing to a win in the 400-free relay and a second-place finish in the 200-medley relay. Also winning multiple events for the Stags (8-0 SCIAC) were Joseph Hinton CM '16, Aaron Lutzker HM '19, and Matthew Williams CM '17.
For the men Sagehens (10-2, 7-1 SCIAC), Samuel To PO '18 won the 100-yard fly and contributed to a victory in the 200-yard medley relay. Teddy Koerner PO ’19, Phillip Clayman PO ’16, and Jack Swanson PO ’19 also won individual events.
Both teams were competitive and dynamic in the water, but at the end of the day the Stags triumphed over the men Sagehens 174-124, while the lady Sagehens beat the Athenas 152-146.
The women Hens’ (11-1, 8-0 SCIAC) victory marked the Athenas’ (7-1 SCIAC) first loss in a conference dual meet since the 2002-03 season. However, Schwab maintained that she wasn’t “that surprised” with their victory. “Of all four years, this is when I felt the most that we were really close to beating them,” she said. “But I knew almost everything had to go right.”
Jenna Haufler PO '16 added, “Our freshman year we were super amped because we knew we had a good shot. We ended up losing a few close races and losing 152-146.” Ironically, the meet reflected the same score from Haufler’s freshman year. Only, this time, the Sagehens came out on top.
For the Athenas, Stephanie Doi CM '17 had a stellar performance: she won the 200-butterfly, the 100-butterfly, and the 200-inter-medley. Kelly Ngo CM ’17 and Emily McKinnon CM ’17 also led the team with two wins each.
With each team winning eight events, the race for points was tight throughout the meet. Kelsey Thomas PO ’18 helped the Hens by winning the 1000 and 500-yard freestyle, while Angela Ling PO ’19 and Maddie Kauahi PZ ’19 also roped in two wins each. Over at the diving boards, Dawn Barlow PZ '16 dove her way into first place in the three-meter dive competition.
The two teams will battle again between Feb. 18 and Feb. 21 in the SCIAC championships. However, tensions will be even higher: Both teams can feel the championship just beyond their fingertips.
“SCIACs is always a special time in the year where all the hard work comes together,” Poltash said. “With the squad we have this year, I know that we have the tools to live up to those expectations.”
Schwab has a similar take on the upcoming meet. “It was great that we won this meet on Saturday, but the whole team knows what really counts for us to win this season is the championship meet,” she said. “We have to win that.”
Still, both swimmers know that they will look back and remember their teammates, the bright moments at swim meets, and all the fun times they had with their teams.
“I will miss the people the most,” Poltash said.
Schwab, pondering the moment when they return to Haldeman pool after SCIAC, agreed: “We’ll all cry. We all get in a circle and Coach gives the seniors one last opportunity to address the whole team … and that’s the end of our time swimming here.”