POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- In search of a record 20th consecutive Seven Sisters Championship title, Wellesley College swimming & diving got off to a terrific start of Saturday, taking first place in eight of 12 events to hold the overall lead after day one of the 2017 Seven Sisters Swimming & Diving Championships at Vassar College's Kresge Pool.
The Blue currently pace the field with 804 points. Smith College is in second with 535 points, followed by the host Brewers with 479 points, Mount Holyoke College with 348 points and Bryn Mawr College with 259 points.
The Blue got the ball rolling with a victory in the 200 Yard Freestyle Relay, sophomores Francesca Dong (Princeton Junction, N.J.), Crystal Zhu (Chelmsford, Mass.), junior Patricia Chen (Natick, Mass.) and sophomore Cathy Chen (Parsippany, N.J.) combined for a time of 1:42.61 to earn the Blue 40 points, while first year Sarah Gladstone (Brookline, Mass.), sophomore Emma Magee (Stormville, N.Y.), first year Veronica Pawlik (Teaneck, N.J.) and junior Lindsey Wu (Livingston, N.J.) locked down more points in sixth place (1:49.24).
The Brewers earned first place times in the next two events, the 500 Yard Freestyle and the 200 Yard IM, as sophomore Kael Ragnini (Barrington, Ill.) and senior Julia Cunningham (Yardley, Pa.) earned Seven Sisters titles in the 500 Free and 200 IM, respectively. However, the Blue showed off their depth in each event, taking second (5:24.20) and third (5.25.26) in the 500 Free thanks to first year Kayleigh Svensson (Palo Alto, Calif) and sophomore Jessie Feng (Princeton, N.J.). The Blue then swept spots 2-5 in the 200 IM, with sophomore Karen Wang (Holmdel, N.J.) taking second in 2:15.47, classmate Sunny Chiang (Troy, Mich.) third in 2:16.82, first year Danielle Peterson (Livingston, N.J.) fourth in 1:18.07 and Wu fifth in 2:19.66.
Cathy Chen, Zhu and Patricia Chen returned to secure the Blue the first, third and fourth place times in the 50 Yard Freestyle. Chen took the title in 24.74, with Zhu and Patricia Chen adding more points for the Blue in third (25.69) and fourth (26.03). Wellesley then swept the top-two spots in the 400 Yard Medley Relay, behind a first place (4:09.02) effort from Chiang, Peterson, Wang and Feng and a runner-up finish from Svensson, Wu, Haley and Patricia Chen.
Already the Seven Sisters record holder on both the 1 and 3-meter boards, junior Maura Sticco-Ivins (Framingham, Mass.) earned her third-straight Seven Sisters Championship in 1-meter Diving with a first place score of 474.75. In all, five divers totaled NCAA Regional qualifying scores in Saturday's 1-meter event, including Wellesley senior Maddie Stern (Phoenix, Ariz.) who finished fifth with a score of 408.45.
Following 1-meter diving, the Blue returned strong in the 200 Yard Medley Relay, earning another first place time in 1:51.93 thanks to the crew of Cathy Chen, Peterson, Wang and Zhu. The Blue were also third in the 200 Medley Relay, as Svensson, Wu, Haley and Dong recorded a time of 1:58.44.
Cunningham notched her second and third individual titles in the 400 IM (4:34.45) and the 100 Yard Butterfly, but it was the Blue that dominated the field in the day's eighth and ninth events. Wellesley took second, third, fifth and sixth in 400 IM. Wang was the runner-up in 4:43.80, while Chiang posted a time of 4:47.90 to take third, Peterson was fifth (4:54.98) and Wu was sixth (4:58.11). The Blue then grabbed second and third in the 100 Fly, behind Feng's runner-up (1:01.40) performance and Zhu's (1:03.06) third place time. Feng was also third in the 200 Yard Freestyle (2:02.17), as the Blue took five of the top-ten spots in the final.
Cathy Chen then closed out her day with with two more Seven Sisters titles, winning the 100 Yard Breaststroke in 1:09.27 and the 100 Yard Backstroke in 59.74. Chen's victories were part of of 1-2 Wellesley sweeps in both events, with Peterson taking second (1:10.19) in the 100 Breast and Chiang finishing as the runner-up (1:02.07) in the 100 Back. Wellesley's team effort was tremendous in the 100 Breast, as Wu, Patricia Chen and Zhu also helped the Blue lock down the fourth, fifth and seventh place times in the event.
Wellesley completed a sweep of the opening day relays with a victory in Saturday's final event, the 800 Yard Freestyle. Wang, Svensson, Feng and Chiang had the top time of 8:11.73. The Blue also took fifth, with Gladstone, Pawlik, Dong and first year Maggie Haley (Shady Side, Md.) finishing in 8:49.35.
Competition continues tomorrow, Sunday, January 22, at 10:00 AM. Fans can watch live, courtesy of Vassar Athletics by visiting vassarathletics.com.