MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – After posting a seventh-place finish at the 2017 NESCAC Championship, the Wesleyan University women's swimming & diving program will compete in the 2018 conference meet on Feb. 16-18 at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass.
The Cardinals' 2017 effort on the big stage was the program's best finish since the 2008 season, as then-freshman Caroline Murphy placed first overall in the championship final of the 50-yard backstroke and second in the championship final of the 100 backstroke with a program record of 55.64.
Sophomore standout Hannah O'Halloran was also tremendous as a rookie on the conference stage, netting a seventh-place finish in the championship final of the 200 backstroke. Senior captain Zoe Kerrich put her name into the Cardinals' record book with a school-best time of 1:03.76, to go along with a fourth-place effort during the championship final of the 100 breaststroke.
Wesleyan also broke four records in relay events during the 2017 NESCAC Championship at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Murphy, Kerrich, then-junior Charlotte Pitts and O'Halloran clocked program-best times in the 200 medley relay (1:45.60) and the 400 medley relay (3:49.43).
During the 200 freestyle relay, Kerrich, Murphy, then-sophomore Sophia Antonio and O'Halloran recorded a school record of 1:35.86, and then in the 400 freestyle relay, Kerrich, O'Halloran, then-freshman Grace Middleton and Murphy compiled a program record of 3:29.15.
The Cardinals have recorded some strong performances during the 2017-18 campaign under sixth-year head coach Peter Solomon, who has been named NESCAC Coach of the Year eight times – most recently earning the honor on the women's side at the conclusion of the 2016-17 year. In addition to Solomon's tremendous guidance, Wesleyan has relied on great leadership from assistant coaches Ethan Cooke and Devon O'Nalty, as well as four senior captains in Kerrich, Lauren Conte, Corinne Noonan and Emily Kessler.
The 2017-18 version of the Cardinals have won four dual meets, outlasting Trinity, 185-110, on Nov. 18, defeating Roger Williams, 191-105, on Jan. 20, beating Colby, 241-120, on Jan. 27, and edging Coast Guard Academy, 184-113, during Senior Day festivities on Feb. 3. The squad also placed third out of five teams during the CT Cup on Dec. 2 in the Wesleyan Natatorium.
Murphy continues to evolve as a swimmer, as the Gardiner, N.Y. native has totaled seven first-place efforts during the 2017-18 season – six on the individual side and one during a relay event. The outstanding athlete opened her sophomore campaign with a trio of first-place efforts against Bates and Trinity on Nov. 18.
Two days later, Murphy was back at it again, grabbing first-place accolades in the 50 backstroke and 50 freestyle against Little Three-foe Amherst. During a double-dual meet against NESCAC-rivals Colby and Bowdoin on Jan. 26-27, she touched the wall first in the 50 backstroke, and most recently during Senior Day, she was the first-place performer in the 100 backstroke.
O'Halloran has been a consistent force in the team's lineup, collecting first-place nods in the 100 backstroke against Amherst, the 100 backstroke against Roger Williams and Springfield, and the 200 backstroke on Senior Day. Kerrich, who hails from Chappaqua, N.Y., was phenomenal in the breaststroke on Jan. 20, earning first-place acknowledgement in the 100 and 200 events.
Junior Maela Whitcomb has showcased her ability to excel in various events all season, and her long-distance swimming ability was on display against Roger Williams and Springfield, as the Northampton, Mass. native was the first swimmer to touch the wall in the 1,650 freestyle. She also generated a first-place effort during the 100 IM against Colby and Bowdoin.
Kessler and junior Devon Cooper have led the way during the diving events, as Kessler took home first-place recognition off the 1- and 3-meter boards at the CT Cup, and Cooper, who grew up in Salinas, Calif., was the first-place performer during the 3-meter event in the season-opening meet and on Senior Day.
Against Roger Williams and Springfield, O'Halloran, Kerrich, sophomore Leah Cravitz and Darmon were the first-place group in the 400 medley relay, and O'Halloran, Darmon, Whitcomb and Middleton finished first during the 400 freestyle relay.