Men's Sports Sports Women's Sports

Springfield swim teams make a statement at NEWMAC Championships

Patrick Fergus

Numerous swimming records were smashed during the NEWMAC Championships for both the men’s and women’s teams. 

Some of the oldest relay records were broken in the women’s tournament, with the 200 medley relay and 200 free relay falling on consecutive days. 

The 200 free relay team of Mikaili Charlemagne, Natalie Chamberlain, Erin Kelaher, and Kay Shen finished as the conference runner-up in the event, with a final time of 1:34.87, besting the record of 1:35.10 that had stood since 2011. 

The Pride also broke the oldest relay record standing in program history in the 200 medley relay race. The team consisted of Carolyn Blenk and sophomore swimmer Nina Lamb, and two swimmers from the 200 free relay in Charlemagne and Shen. 

I was extremely grateful knowing that we broke the record, and it was an encouraging moment for our whole team.” Shen said. “It was a great collective effort, and created an incentive for us to do even better in the next race.”

Overall, the women’s team finished with a comfortable third-place finish, almost a 200-point buffer over fourth-place finishers Coast Guard. MIT racked up a total of 1,441 total points en route to its 12th straight title. 

We all trained so hard over the season, and it being the first normal season in a couple of years, and new assistant coaches, we all believed we could do great things.” Shen said.

Head swimming coach John Taffe was extremely impressed with the women’s team.

“The women had one of the best championships as a team in recent history, and they were one of the most cohesive, determined, focused teams I have worked with in all my years.” Taffe said. 

The men continued the practice of shattering records. 

The Chan brothers put on a historic showing in the 100 butterfly, as Jonathan Chan posted an impressive 50.02, while older brother James took second place with a record-setting time of 49.29. 

“I was calm, I had gone through the race so many times in my head and I knew I would get it.” James said.

For James, a senior, it was a typical mixture of excitement and nervousness going to his final NEWMAC tournament. Despite being in such great shape for the weekend, James was dealing with groin and back injuries.

“I couldn’t stand up after the 200 [butterfly], my back was hurting so bad and I basically had to crawl out of the pool.” James said. “There was a lot of pride in it for me, handling adverse situations like injuries and still accomplishing some of my goals. I had no regrets and nothing left in the tank.”

Senior Owen Oldenburg also etched his name to the record books with the fastest backstroke in the history of the program with a 51.04, which bested James Chan’s mark that was set earlier this year. Oldenburg’s time was good enough for sixth place in the finals. 

“What impresses me the most about these swimmers is their work ethic, and they had such great careers here and saved their best for last.” Taffe said. 

Taffe and his coaching staff were recently honored as the NEWMAC Women’s Coaching Staff of the Year, receiving the notable esteem for the ninth time in his 34 years at Springfield. 

“I can’t say enough good things about my assistant coaches Howard Hinds and Grace Carlson, two of the best coaches I have worked with and they deserve a ton of credit for the team’s performance,” Taffe said.

The men crushed two medley relay races, as they established new school records in the 400 and 200, respectively. The team consisted of the Chan brothers, along with Daniel Forthsythe, Luke Zonghetti, and Jordan McMillan.

Despite all the broken records, Springfield took fifth place in the tournament, just 30 points shy of WPI for a top four placement. MIT took home its 14th consecutive title, with a total of 1439.5 points.

Both the men’s and women’s teams had strong performances at the NEWMACs, and wrapped up the season with their names decorating the record book. 

Photo: Springfield College Athletics 

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