The William and Mary men’s and women’s teams traveled to Chapel Hill, North Carolina from Feb. 8-10 to compete at the Janis Hape Dowd Nike Invitational. Shattering several lifetime bests and even placing several athletes on the all-time lists, the College put together a standout performance.
Starting out the first day, all six of the Tribe’s men swimmers advanced to finals. In the 500 free, sophomore James Mostofi placed fifth overall with a time of 4:35.03, advancing to the A finals. In the 200 individual medley, freshman Ryan Bebel improved his lifetime best by half a second, swimming 1:52.56 and finishing third overall, allowing him to proceed to the A finals. Freshman Ian Cobb followed with a 1:56.45, earning his lifetime best and bringing him to the B finals. Rounding out the first day, senior Ramzy Ali placed sixth in the 50 free with a 20.91, followed closely by sophomore Aristides Speres with a 21.04 — both men advanced to the A finals.
The women advanced three members of their team to finals in six events. In the 500 free, junior Yuka Kuwahara completed her event in 5:01.65, placing fourth overall with her lifetime-best time, which qualified her for the A finals. Sophomore Tess Ruona swam a 5:21.79, placing 10th and qualifying for the B finals. In the 200 individual medley, senior Abby Jones finished third overall with a 2:10.08, allowing her to advance to the A finals, while freshman Rebecca Rogers was on pace to earn a lifetime best before she was called for a technical infraction and disqualified. In the 50 free, senior Nina Lesser, junior Emma Herold and senior Emily Shroeder were able to qualify for the B finals with scores of 24.50, 25.03 and 25.05, respectively.
Improving upon their morning performances, the men earned four top-five finishes in the first day finals. Finishing fifth overall, Mostofi swam a lifetime-best 4:33.35 in the 500 free, cutting more than 1.3 seconds off his previous best. In the 200 IM, Bebel broke his morning record, improving to 1:52.12 and placing second in the event. Ali and Speres earned close scores yet again, with Ali clocking 21 and Speres swimming 21.08, taking second and fifth places, respectively.
The Tribe women were able to build upon their progress. In the 500 free, Kuwahara swam 5:02.04 to earn third overall. Jones cut two seconds from her 200 individual medley and brought herself to third overall with a 2:08.43. Rogers, despite having been disqualified, time-trialed the event after the session and swam a lifetime best of 2:06.74. Finishing the finals, Lesser stopped the clock in 24.51 seconds in the 50 free, earning seventh overall.
Saturday morning brought more victory for the College, recording five more lifetime bests for the men. In the 100 breast, sophomore Devin McNulty tied the Colonial Athletic Association’s best time this season, earning a time of 54.99 and placing second overall. Additionally, McNulty’s time was the seventh-fastest in school history and 0.02 seconds off his lifetime best. In the 100 fly, freshman Jack Galbraith swam 49.15 for third overall. Four of the six women competing earned top-six finishes. In the 200 medley relay, Schroeder, Jones, Lesser and Ruona took sixth overall with a time of 1:52.33. Following this, Kuwahara finished sixth in the 100 fly with 57.20, followed by Lesser with a 1:01.04. Rogers, despite her setback the previous day, finished second overall in the 400 individual medley with a 4:29.63.
Not to be outdone by their earlier performances, the Tribe Men earned six lifetime bests in six swims Saturday night — five of which landed in the Tribe record books. Galbraith swam 49.00 for third overall, improving upon his bests from the prelims. In the 400 IM, Mostofi finished second overall, dropping below four minutes for the first time. His time of 3:59.22 is the 15th all-time among Tribe athletes. In the 100 breast, Cobb and Bebel took fifth and sixth with 56.41 and 56.43 — ranking them 11th and 12th all-time.
Finishing out on day three, the Tribe continued its impressive display, with two performances ranking on the all-time top-16 athletes list. In the 200 back, Galbraith swam 1:48.97 for second place overall, earning his lifetime best and improving by a third of a second. In the 100 free, Speres improved his lifetime best by 0.09 seconds in order to swim 45.76 and take eighth overall. In the 200 breast, Bebel destroyed his previous record by a second, giving him fifth with a 2:02.42.
Wrapping up day three, the College took three silver medals. Additionally, it totaled 25 lifetime-best swims over the weekend. In the 1,650 free, Mostofi touched the wall in 15:50.13 to earn fourth place overall and ranking him 11th all-time at the College for the event. In the 200 back, Galbraith wrapped up the weekend by earning second place with a 1:49.42. Speres earned his own silver medal in the 100 free, having stopped the clock at 45.93 seconds. Finishing out the night, Bebel took second place in the 200 breast with a 2:03.37, followed closely by Cobb who took fourth with a 2:04.22. The women picked up four more personal bests. In the 200 back, Jones finished third overall in 2:07.16, followed by Ruona’s 2:10.93. Improving her lifetime-best time by almost half a second, junior Julia Bland completed the 100 free in 53.39 seconds, for eighth place overall. In the 200 fly, Kuwahara continued her impressive streak by swimming a 2:02.34, a lifetime-best time by more than 1.5 seconds. She finished fifth in this event and performed the sixth best in school history among Tribe athletes.
The Tribe will return to action when it travels to the CAA Championships in Christiansburg, Virginia, Feb. 20-23. Having won the past four conference titles in a row, the men seek to earn their fifth CAA Championship overall while the women aim to win their third conference title in four seasons after finishing second last year.