Excelling for Williams Women’s Swimming, PHS Grad Deardorff Primed for Postseason
MAKING WAVES: Madeleine Deardorff displays her breaststroke form in action for the Williams College women’s swim team. Former Princeton High standout Deardorff is enjoying a fine sophomore campaign for the Ephs, who are hosting the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) championships this weekend. Williams has won four straight NESCAC titles and took second at the NCAA Division III championships last winter. (Photo Provided by Williams College Sports Information)
By Bill Alden
For Madeleine Deardorff, illness held her back in the early stages of her freshman season for the Williams College women’s swimming team last winter.
“I was the typical freshman in college, I got sick all the time,” said former Princeton High standout Deardorff. “I had actually been sick a lot of the year so going into NESCACs (New England Small College Athletic Conference), I wasn’t as confident as I would have like to have been.”
Gaining confidence, Deardorff excelled at the NESCAC championship meet, taking fourth in both the 200 butterfly and 400 individual medley as Williams won the title. She qualified for the NCAA Division III championships and helped the Ephs take second.
“I think just the overall team aspect, everyone being able to come together and really just achieve,” said Deardorff.
“We all had one goal as a team, just to do the best that we possibly could. Everyone raced their hearts out and it really showed just the dedication and passion that everyone has.”
This weekend, Deardorff is primed to do her best as the NESCACs will be taking place from February 16-18.
“We are hosting the NESCACs at Williams this year, so that is exciting,” said Deardorff. “A lot of people will come and cheer; I think that the energy will be really good.”
Deardorff is excited by the progress she has made over her college career.
“My mental approach to the sport in general was my biggest improvement,” said Deardorff. “In high school, I had successes and I really enjoyed the sport, but my approach was probably more immature. If I had a bad race, it would bother me a lot. College taught me you can be doing really poorly and you can be lacking confidence but things will turn out OK.”
Noting that the team is split into three groups — sprints, middle distance, and long distance — for training, Deardorff has gained confidence in her conditioning.
“We are doing two doubles per week and we also do lift,” said Deardorff. “It is extremely specialized and I think that is probably the most beneficial part of college swimming.”
Competing mainly in the 200 fly along with the 200 and 400 IM this winter, Deardorff is feeling hale and hearty.
“Individually I think things are going pretty well,” said Deardorff. “My training is good and, knock on wood, I am healthy.”
Looking ahead to the postseason as Williams shoots for its fifth straight NESCAC title and another NCAA run, Deardorff knows that the Ephs can’t get ahead of themselves.
“What we really try to emphasize right now as we are going into NESCACs and championship season is not to focus on nationals,” said Deardorff.
“It is definitely something that stresses a lot of people out. You need to focus on the moment; something our coach always says is be where your feet are, don’t look too far ahead and don’t think about what you did yesterday.”
In reflecting on her Williams experience, Deardorff has enjoyed making the most out of every moment, in and out of the water.
“My biggest thing was that Division III really does give you the opportunity to embrace challenges academically and with swimming,” said Deardorff, who is planning to major in political science. “I am really, really glad that I chose to do D-III and Williams is the perfect thing for me.”