After a disappointing first two days of competition, the Harvard swimmers were able to step up their game in the third day of competition at the 2005 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships— and shatter a few records along the way.
The Crimson only qualified two swimmers for the Women’s NCAA Championships this year, but both swimmers were able to qualify in more than one event.
“That is one of the things that made me happy that I could perform so well against people that were so fast,” freshman Jackie Pangilinan said. “Usually I get intimidated, but it was so great to watch the finals and see the people swimming so fast. It was so amazing that you get inspired.”
Sophomore Noelle Bassi qualified for three events—a heavy load for an individual swimmer—but only swam in two, opting not to swim in her B-cut events. Pangilinan qualified for two events and swam in both.
On the last day of competition, Bassi and Pangilinan both competed in their best events and performed extremely well.
Pangilinan swam first in the 200-yard breaststroke, the better of her two breaststroke events, and finished with a time of 2:14.91, breaking a school record previously held by Crimson coach Stephanie Wriede-Morawski ’92. Her 16th-place finish was just enough to make the finals later that day.
“I was really happy,” Pangilinan said. “I swam my best time. I didn’t expect to make it back [to the finals] at all.”
Pangilinan went on to best her own record and improve her finish—2:13.98 in the finals, good for 15th.
Her performance was especially impressive because it was two seconds faster than her qualifying time of 2:15.37, previously her best time of the year. She was seeded 31st going into the event.
“I was ready to swim fast because I have been practicing hard and swimming fast,” Pangilinan said. “It was fun. I put the pressure aside.”
But Bassi was not about to be shown up and registered two great record-breaking performances of her own. In day three of competition, Bassi swam in her best event, the 200-yard butterfly. She finished in 12th place in the preliminaries with a time of 1:59.32 for a new school record.
In the finals, Bassi registered a faster time of 1:59.29 but dropped three spots in the finals to finish in 15th place.
“After Jackie swam well, I used the momentum and was aggressive in my race,” Bassi wrote in an e-mail. “In the morning, the goal was to win [the] heat, which I accomplished. When Jackie and I both made finals, we were ecstatic and channeled that energy into our races.”
Bassi now holds the top three times in the 200-yard butterfly in Harvard history.
It was Bassi’s second time competing in the 200-yard butterfly at the NCAA Championships. The first time was in 2003, when she was a freshman swimming for Tennessee. Then, she took an impressive 18th place in the prelims, just missing the chance to swim in the finals.
This weekend, Bassi also competed in the 500-yard freestyle. In the preliminaries, Bassi swam a time a 4:52.92 for a 47th-place finish. While she did not make the finals, she did improve on her ranking from her seeded position of 51st. Bassi qualified with her school-record breaking time of 4:50.78.
Bassi would then have swum in the 400-yard individual medley on day two but since she made the A-cut for the 200-yard butterfly event and only the B-cut for the 400-yard medley, she choose not to swim the event in order to be better prepared for her better event on the final day.
“I wanted to concentrate on fewer events than I did at Ivies,” Bassi wrote. “So I decided it would be in my best interest to rest on Friday.”
Pangilinan’s second race was the 100-yard breaststroke, her second best of the two breaststroke events. She finished in 37th. Pangilinan was ranked 49th going into the race with a seed time of 1:03.65, and although her time in the preliminaries was a slower 1:04.00, she did improve her position by 12 spots.
It was Pangilinan’s first trip to the NCAA Championships. But the veteran Bassi was impressed with the freshman’s performance.
“As a freshman, [Pangilinan] didn’t know what to expect, and she did an amazing job handling her nerves,” Bassi wrote. “She is such a hard worker and while I know she will go faster in future seasons, she did really well.”
—Staff writer Abigail M. Baird can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.