Women’s swim team breaks a long drought, hopes for more

Record-breaking freshman Elaine Dudley concentrates before a race in a swim meet against St. Michaels. She has been one of several freshmen who are bringing a new attitude and working to change the fortunes of the women’s swim team. Norwich Athletics Photo

Record-breaking freshman Elaine Dudley concentrates before a race in a swim meet against St. Michaels. She has been one of several freshmen who are bringing a new attitude and working to change the fortunes of the women’s swim team.
Norwich Athletics Photo

For the first time in six years, the Norwich University women’s swim team pulled off a win, 120-110, against Babson College. It was the women’s first win since 2009, and it was greeted by surprise and elation, spurring hopes of a turnaround for the program.

“I was double, triple checking the results after (the) meet…I was really surprised we won,” said the head coach of the Norwich University swim team, Andrew Bretscher. “The score was very close coming down to the end there in the points and I wasn’t sure till the very end if we won or not … Figuring out the points was challenging first, I thought we had it won but I didn’t want to tell the team and end up being wrong.”

Then the final score came up and it had the women’s swim team beating Babson by 10 points.

“The win definitely provides momentum moving forward,” said Bretscher. “This was one of the team goals this year, and being able to do it this early at this point in the season really helps providing confidence,” Bretscher said, adding that it would give the team a boost to “go out there compete against some of the top teams we compete against.”

Some new freshman swimmers on the roster are providing the momentum for this shift in the team’s fortunes. “We have a very talented freshman class this year,” said Bretscher, and he cited one freshman student in particular who has given the team much needed points and even broke a school record.

Elaine Dudley, a freshman from North Waterboro, Maine, set a new school and pool record with a time of 2:14.79 in the 200-yard individual medley. This was the first time a women’s record fell at Norwich in over 16 years. Dudley has since won five consecutive Rookie of the Week honors in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference and continued her impressive performances.

Dudley said the whole team has been pushing in training to turn things around. “I just like being a part of the history in the making,” said Dudley, “It’s been six years since we last won and I’m just happy to be a part of that moment … We have just been working really hard and training long hours.”

“It feels great to finally see a new name up on that record board,” said Bretscher, adding that “it’s really impressive to see her breaking records, especially at this point in the season because I’ve been training them hard and I know they’re starting to get tired.”

The women on the team had a mix of different personal feelings after their huge win. “For all the upperclassmen that have been trying for years to get that first win, it means a lot to me that I can be a contributing part,” said Dudley. Sarah Eriksson, a freshman from Danbury, Conn., said “it feels nice that we can really prove to ourselves that we have what it takes to win and that all the hard work, dedication got us to this point.”

Swimmers on the team pointed out several factors that really helped them secure this first victory in six years, especially a strong teamwork ethic. “Everyone was there for each other, constantly motivating one another to want to do better than the person next to you,” said Eriksson.

Bretscher has also been stressing the importance of attitude and noted the profound impact it had on the swimmers in the Babson meet. Bretscher said, “the overall attitude of everyone is something I really noticed, I feel like that is something that went a really long way in this meet and carried us to win, and I hope it continues down the road.”

While another victory has been elusive, the women finished 3rd out of seven teams in the GNAC championships in early December, their best finish under head coach Bretscher and highest since 2000.

Dudley became the first Cadet female swimmer to win an event at the championships since 2010 with a victory in the 200 yard IM in 2:12.40. Her time broke three records (a school record, pool record and GNAC record) She also placed fourth in the 200 yard freestyle in 1:59.47.

Another freshman, Abby Weber, finished second in the 1 meter diving competition with a score of 163.00.

The team of Dudley, freshman Dononique Ector of Buffalo, N.Y., sophomore Alexis Spry of Corning, N.Y., and junior Meghan Duell of Warsaw, N.Y., placed third in the 200 yard freestyle relay in 1:48.96.

Dudley also took second place in the 100 yard freestyle with a time of 53.57 and the 50 yard backstroke in 28.74. She broke a 28 year-old school record with her time in the freestyle and an 18 year-old school record in the backstroke. Her split of 1:56.30 in the 800 yard freestyle relay also broke a 28 year-old school record.

The Cadets lost their final meet of the semester to Bentley, but Dudley continued to beak records, with a winning time of 1:03.33 in the 100 yard IM. Her new mark broke an 18-year-old record. Dudley also won the 100 yard backstroke in 1:01.99.

The women’s team is now off until it starts the new year by seeking another win when it hosts Bates on Jan. 7 in a dual meet at Goodyear Pool at 3 p.m.

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