Author: Lauren Taylor
Buoyed by two dominating performances from Caroline Chang (sophomore), the Occidental women’s swimming and diving team finished fourth at the SCIAC Championships on Feb. 19-21. Although the Tigers team held slim title expectations heading into the meet, held at Los Angeles’ South Gate Pool, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps put on an impressive team performance to take the league crown by a wide margin, their 1075.5 total points nearly doubling second-place Redlands total of 567.
Occidental coach Shea Manning was pleased with the way his swimmers performed under pressure.
“I was looking for definitely season-best times and hopefully a bunch of lifetime bests as well,” Manning said.
“We went into SCIACs third in the conference, and we were hoping our performances were going to hold that place or move us up. We weren’t too focused on what the other teams were doing because we were more focused on our individual and relay performances. We knew we were going to be happy if we performed up to our capability.”
Chang in particular swept the 100 and 200-yard breaststroke for the second year in a row. She broke her own school record in the 200 breaststroke by more than one second, beating the field by a quarter pool length and likely punching a ticket to the NCAA Championships with an NCAA “B-Cut” time of 2:20.27 seconds.
“I was looking to drop times in all of my individual events,” Chang said.
“I wasn’t really expecting to make nationals, but I guess that was sort of a cherry on top.”
In addition, two relay teams came through in the clutch. The 800-yard free relay team of Mallory Ryan (senior), Alena Morris (junior), Chang and Juliet Suess (sophomore) touched the wall in a school-record of 8:02.46 and the 200-yard medley team of Chang, Emily Watkins (first-year), Morris, and Lauren Ransom (junior) reached the podium with a third-place finish (1:50.13).
Occidental’s standout diver, Jessica Robson (sophomore), also had successful championships. She capped off an undefeated regular season in both the one-meter and three-meter diving competitions with a pair of SCIAC titles in the events.
“She’s just so clutch,” Manning said of Robson.
“You never like to be complacent, but with her we just knew we could rely on her to score points for us at the dual meets. She’s an impressive athlete and very driven and obviously separated herself from the rest of her competitors in the SCIAC.”
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