Swimming and diving teams sweep Middlebury at Tarbell

Gabrielle Sergi won or helped win four events for Bates in a dual-meet victory over Middlebury in Lewiston on Jan. 5, 2014. File photo by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College.

LEWISTON, Maine -- For the first time since 1991, the Bates men's and women's swimming and diving teams both defeated NESCAC rival Middlebury on the same day Sunday afternoon in a dual meet at Tarbell Pool. The Bates men defeated Middlebury 152-136, while the women cruised to a 175-119 victory.

While the Bates men outscored Middlebury in their 2012 meeting, the Bates women last defeated Middlebury head-to-head in 1994. Both squads topped the Panthers in 1991.

Bates' performance comes on the heels of its annual holiday break training trip to Deerfield Beach, Fla. 

"The training trip right after exams allowed them to train better than they ever have," said head coach Peter Casares. "They came back for five days of tough practices, and still managed to swim fast while beaten up and broken down. It was a banner day for the program."

Women's Recap

The first four women's races were all won by the Bobcats, beginning with the first of the team's two relay wins. Sophomore Whitney Paine (Moultonborough, N.H.), first-year Sara Daher (Marblehead, Mass.), senior Emilie Geissinger (Darien, Conn.) and senior Gabrielle Sergi (Newburyport, Mass.) swam the 200-yard medley relay just 0.26 seconds ahead of the Panthers, with Sergi surging past Morgan Burke on the final leg and touching the wall in 1:50.46, a new pool record. The former mark of 1:51.86 was set by Middlebury in January 2008.

Bates also went 1-2 in the 1,650-yard freestyle race, with first-year Julia Smachlo (Rexford, N.Y.) winning in 17:46.83 and junior Sarah Bouchard (Annapolis, Md.) taking second in 18:14.77. Bates' distance duo achieved the same feat in the 500 free, with Smachlo winning in 5:14.40 and Bouchard holding off Middlebury's Sara Swett by 1.08, at 5:18.56, for second place.

Sophomore Caroline Depew (Hudson, Ohio) continued the women's squad's dominance in the 200 free, beating out Middlebury's Jennifer Koide 1:58.61 to 1:58.73. Paine then extended the women's streak by winning the 100 back in 1:00.10, 0.24 ahead of the Panthers' Andie Tibbetts.

The Bates women concluded the meet with another pool relay record, this time in the 200 freestyle, where Paine, sophomore Lindsey Prelgovisk (Oakland, Maine), first-year Shelby Rader (Duxbury, Mass.) and Sergi finished in 1:39.82, beating the old mark of 1:40.03 set by Bates' Charlotte Green, Sarah Reingold, Emily Tato and Katelyn Drake in February 2009.

Daher was also responsible for an individual pool record falling. The rookie standout won the 400 individual medley in 4:37.60, snipping 3.99 seconds off of the former facility record of 4:41.59 set by current Bates assistant coach Vanessa Williamson '05 in February 2002. Daher also won the 200 butterfly in 2:12.74 and the 200 back in 2:09.11, giving her four first-place finishes on the day, including three individual wins, and two pool records.

Sergi also won the 50 free in 24.64, with Rader the runner-up in 25.20. Sergi also notched a win in the 100 free, at 54.39. "Elle Sergi was amazing," said Casares.

Men's Recap

A pair of wins by junior Andrew Briggs (York, Maine) and some breakout performances by first-year swimmers paced the Bates men to their impressive victory over the rival Panthers.

The Bates men edged Middlebury in the meet-opening 200 medley relay, as first-year Paden Brunault (Orlando, Fla.), Briggs, senior Venkatesh Duvvuri (South Orange, N.J.) and first-year Jack Dina (Kenilworth, Ill.) completed the race in 1:37.75, 0.52 ahead of Middlebury's top quartet.

Brunault soon posted his second victory of the day in the fourth men's race of the day, edging sophomore teammate Ben Sommer (Evanston, Ill.) for first place in the 100 backstroke, at 55.63 seconds (Sommer's time was 56.39). Brunault later dominated the 200 back by a 2.59-second margin, winning in 2:00.33.

Briggs followed with a 0.68-second victory over Bates freshman Ned Thunem (New Canaan, Conn.) in the 100 breaststroke, at 59.40 seconds. The junior standout went on to win the 200 breast in the closest race of the day, edging Middleburys' Stephan Koenigsberger 2:13.11 to 2:13.14. "Andrew Briggs was on fire," said Casares.

Bates freshmen Max Coffey (Hamden, Conn.) and Erik Saberski (Cheshire, Conn.) proceeded to turn many heads by going 1-2 in the 50 freestyle before swimmers broke for the 1-meter diving event. Coffey won the race in 22.47 seconds, with Saberski second in 22.56, just 0.10 ahead of Middlebury's Paul Lagasse.

Dina then underscored Bates' deep first-year class by winning the 100 free in 49.05.

Bates first-year Chase Lis (Longmont, Colo.) then scored yet another win for the Bobcats in the final individual race of the day, taking first in the 400 individual medley in 4:25.08.

It all added up to a powerhouse performance for Bates' men's and women's teams.

"The team has made a real strong commitment to our goals this year," said Casares. "They have done things right since September -- both in the pool and out -- and that is why we saw them perform this way."

Bates will host Norwich and the University of New England in a tri-meet on Jan. 11 at 1pm.