Four for Four: Ursinus Women’s Swimming Caps Off Perfect Four Years

Photo courtesy of Alli Hemp

Andrew Simoncini

Two presidents in office, both at Ursinus and in the White House, three graduating classes, and a slew of other events have highlighted the last four years. An endless list of things have happened within the past four years, but what is one thing that hasn’t happened?  The Ursinus women’s swim team has not lost a dual meet or conference championship.

Allison Emick, Rissi Ferrari, Alli Hemp, and Cat Wilson—the four lone seniors on the team—have done the near impossible by finishing their careers with a perfect 47-0 in dual meets, including a “quadfecta” of conference championships.

So how does it feel to never lose a meet in your entire career?

“It hasn’t actually hit me until this year when some guy was like ‘What’s it like to be a college athlete [who has] have never lost anything,’” said senior captain Rissi Ferrari.  “It didn’t hit me until this year that we actually were undefeated and [have] never experienced a loss.  That’s when it hit me that I want to fight for it this season and defend that title.”

The Bears went on a regular season run this year, finishing 10-0 and winning the coveted fourth Centennial Conference title. The 2012 seasons ended with the quad taking second place in the championship meet, losing it on the final relay.  The following season, perfection began.

One of the things that makes the Bears stand out opposed to other teams in the conference is the number of points they racked up. Each team that competes in the meet is allowed to have 18 swimmers compete. The women’s team has exactly 18 swimmers on the team, the second smallest roster in the conference this season. In spite of this unusually small number of athletes, each one of them scored at least one point in the championship meet and made an important contribution to the success of the team.

“Every person on our team is valuable; our depth is unbelievable because everyone has something to contribute,” said Ferrari.

The Bears have nationally recognized swimmers in Clara Baker, Meggie Leitz, and Peyten Lyons, but sometimes it’s the swimmers scoring less points that make the biggest impact at the meet.

“You have those really great swimmers, but then you also have people that can get [those] fifth and sixth [places] and get those points in—that’s where other teams lack,” said Emick.  “They have those really great swimmers, and that’s all they have.”

Throughout the course of their careers, the focus of the team has shifted to different things. Coming in as first-year students, the women had a high standard to live up to. Work hard, swim fast, focus, and the good results will come. They did all of those things and immediately saw results. In their second year, they were still trying hard to improve their times while mentoring the incoming group of athletes. For the remaining two years, the focus has shifted from learning to teaching: setting a positive example for the underclassmen and stressing a hard work ethic while emphasizing that the most important part of swimming is having a good time.

Alli Hemp saw great success in this year’s conference meet, as she was able to make it into the ‘A’ flight of the 100 yard butterfly, finishing in sixth place, and scoring 13 points for that event.

“In the past, seniors have been able to say ‘We know what it feels like to lose’ but we’ve never experienced that, so it’s hard sometimes to bring that motivation,” said Emick.  “We’ve worked very hard for everything we got, but we didn’t have that fire in our bellies from losing.”

Each of the four seniors acted as a pivotal part of the team all season, especially during the final meet.

Ferrari and Hemp were both part of the 200 and 400 freestyle relay team that finished ninth and brought in a total of 36 points for the team. Ferrari added two points in the 100 freestyle. Hemp brought in nine points with her 9th place finish in the 50 yard freestyle; 11 points with her eighth place finish in the 100 freestyle; 13 points in the 100 yard butterfly; and helped bring in 40 more points with her participation in the 200 yard medley relay. Emick added four points in the 1650 yard freestyle; six points with her 11th place finish in the 200 yard freestyle; and 18 points as part of the 800 yard freestyle relay. Cat Wilson was able to join in on the action by giving Ursinus one point with her 16th place finish in the 400 yard IM.

“This program, my teammates, and everything that the Ursinus swim team has given me has made me fall in love with this sport again and I am so happy I was able to have this opportunity,” said Wilson.

The seniors leave Ursinus with four first place team medals and a lifetime full of memories and accomplishments that will be hard to be rivaled by any athlete. The future looks bright for the swim team, thanks in part to the all-time great legacy these four have left on the program.

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