PASADENA, Calif. (Dec. 3, 2014) – Returning both point scorers at the SCIAC Championships and the top swimmer in all but two events, the Caltech women's swimming and diving team is looking to solidify the program's foundation with a big season. Last year's squad met its goal of scoring more points at the SCIAC Championships than in the 2012-13 season, and has set the bar even higher this year.
"We had two women score at SCIACs last year, which was an improvement over the year before," Head Coach Jack Leavitt said. "We're looking to do the same this season, have more individual point scorers and top our team points total from last year."
Senior Jacqueline Masehi-Lano (San Marino, Calif. / Maranatha) will be integral to meeting that goal once again. Having set an incredible 15 records over her three years, including bettering her 100 Fly mark for the third time last season, and qualifying for SCIAC finals in two events last year, she will be returning from studying abroad at Cambridge looking to attain a number of NCAA "B" cuts across the butterfly and sprint freestyle events.
"Jackie was pulled in a lot of directions as a junior and that kept her training from being as consistent as she would have wanted," Leavitt said. "We're both very optimistic about her senior season."
On the distance side, junior Alexandra Ilic (Austin, Texas / Westlake) will lead the charge after recording the team's top times in the 500, 1000 and 1650 freestyle and the second-best marks in the 100 and 200. Ilic will also play a key role on the medley relays after posting the top 50 backstroke time on the squad.
"Alex dropped a lot of time in the 500 and her training is already well ahead of where it was at this point last season," Leavitt said. "She has also taken on the role of captain extremely well as a leader in workouts and on recruiting weekends; she's really an extension of the staff who embodies all the ideals coaches look for in a captain."
Sophomore Zofii Kaczmarek (New York, N.Y. / Stuyvesant) will lead a two-woman diving squad after a wildly successful rookie year which saw her score at the SCIAC Championships despite joining the team with no diving experience. With her competitive gymnastics background, however, Kaczmarek was quick to make an impact despite a nagging injury and has already begun to improve her dive list from last year. Freshman Robin Brown joins the team in a similar situation as Kaczmarek's freshman year, with no diving experience but an extensive background in dance. She will build an initial list of six dives for dual meet competition with an eye on the full 11 in the 1-meter competition and potentially the 3-meter for the SCIAC Championships.
"Zofii is working hard at juggling workouts and a busy schedule as a sophomore, but has returned looking stronger than last year already," Diving Coach Ute Zimmerman said. "She was unable to build a dive list beyond the basics due to injury last year, but has the opportunity this season to build on her degree of difficulty by incorporating more complex dives with 1.5 somersaults."
Junior Grace Lee (Artesia, Calif. / Gretchen Whitney) rounds out the quartet of returners and will reprise her role as a moveable piece between the sprint freestyle and backstroke events, slotting in wherever needed to maximize the Caltech lineup's scoring potential.
Four newcomers will complete the young eight-swimmer squad, with four-year water polo senior Shalini Majumdar (Orinda, Calif. / Miramonte) an intriguing addition. The second-leading scorer on the team as a junior and captain, her intangibles alone have already made her a phenomenal addition to the squad. Along with sophomore Kate Evans (Suwanee, Ga. / Lambert) and freshman Katherine Guo, the trio will be counted on to form a more well-rounded and deeper lineup in 2014-15.
"Like every year, we set both individual and team goals, but both revolve around us just wanting to get better in any and all aspects that we can," Leavitt said. "Taking on tougher sets in practice, dropping time in meets and even just racing smarter and better all bring up the program in the long run."
Leavitt and the Beavers open the season at the University of Redlands on Wednesday, Dec. 3 at 5:30 p.m.