Men’s swimming captures 12th straight NE title

The Williams Men’s ’99 Swimming and Diving Team won their twelfth consecutive New England Championship this past weekend at Williams College. Williams amassed 1742 points to take the title. Second-place Middlebury was 308 points behind Williams with a total of 1434. Amherst finished in third with 1169.5 points.

Williams got off to a good start on the three-day meet in the first event as the 200-yard freestyle relay team of John Cole ’00, Tom Pickard ’01, Alex Poole ’00 and Fred Licon ’99 placed second in 1:23.51, a National Consideration (B) time.

In the first individual event, the 500-yard freestyle, freshman Jeff McBride got to prove his talent to the rest of New England. He took the title in 4:37.23, a National B cut. Also swimming well for Williams in the 500 were sophomore Paul Friedberg (seventh, 4:47.74), senior co-captain Mike Hodel (eighth, 4:51.52) and freshman Ben Doob (tenth, 4:48.98).

Junior Jason Frink led the Ephs in the 100-yard butterfly, swimming a swift 53.11 for fifth place. Touching in right behind him was freshman Daniel Morales, who finished sixth in 53.40. Jeremy Faust ’01 was the other Eph to score in the 100 Fly as his 55.07 put him fifteenth.

Co-captain Jon Shade ’99 was too fast for the field in the 50-yard breaststroke. He won the event in 26.90 and was the only swimmer under 27 seconds. Also swimming well for Williams were Elliot Gansner ’02, who placed fourth in 27.56 and Bevan Londergan ’00, eleventh with his 28.11.

The Ephs dominated the 200-yard backstroke, taking four of the top eight places. Leading the way was junior Cyrus King who won the event in 1:51.39, an automatic (A) cut for the NCAA’s. Next to the wall for Williams was Todd Gamblin ’02, whose 1:53.55 put him third overall. Geoff Allen ’01 finished fifth for the Ephs in 1:55.94, while Mike Simerman ’02 placed seventh in 1:56.52. Gamblin, Allen and Simerman all had B cuts for nationals.

The 50-yard freestyle was also a display of Williams’ talent and depth. Licon won the event with a National A cut of 20.51. Pickard and Jamie Mackay ’01 finished seventh and eighth in 21.66 and 21.74, respectively. A trio of juniors placed in the consolation final as Poole finished twelfth (21.99), Cole was fifteenth (22.21) and Jason Oraker was sixteenth (22.24).

Alone in the 200-yard individual medley, sophomore Brian Strickler proved that strength doesn’t have to come in numbers as he placed third with a national B cut of 1:55.31.

Williams was also successful in the diving portion of Friday’s competition. Chris Wendell ’00 placed sixth on the 1-meter board with 422.80 points. Freshman Barry Gross also placed with his total of 267.85 points (20th). To finish day one, King, Shade, Frink and Licon pooled their efforts to capture second place in the 400-yard medley relay. Their time of 3:26.78 was a national B cut.

Day two began with the 200-yard medley relay. Allen, Shade, Morales and Licon swam this event for the Ephs, recording a national B cut of 1:35.86, which was good for third place.

Three brave Williams swimmers dared to swim the grueling 400-yard individual medley. King placed second in a national B cut of 4:04.99. In the previous heat, Doob and Frink touched in at 4:17.31 and 4:18.48 for tenth and eleventh, respectively.

In the 50-yard butterfly Licon was the top finished for Williams as his 23.29 put him in second. Pickard was the next Eph finisher at 23.92 (ninth) and Cole placed 11th (24.30). Mackay and Faust contributed even more points for the Ephs as they finished 21st (24.78) and 22nd (25.01), respectively.

McBride picked up another win and another B cut in the 200-yard freestyle with his time of 1:42.83. Hodel placed seventh in 1:46.12 while Friedberg won the consolation final in 1:45.21 (ninth). Morales, 18th in 1:47.17 and Oraker, 22nd in 1:48.14, also scored for Williams. Allen was the top Williams finisher in the 100-yard backstroke. His time of 53.13 placed him fifth and was a national B cut. Gamblin also had a B cut as he finished sixth in 53.27. Two other Ephs were tops in the consolation final. Simerman won that heat in 54.31 (ninth) while Poole was tenth in 54.55.

The 100-yard breaststroke was another event in which the Williams men had four of the top eight finishers. Shade led the charge with his national B cut of 58.89 and second-place. Strickler was close behind him, finishing third in 59.53. Gansner hit a minute flat to place fifth, and Don Wood ’00 touched in eighth with a 1:00.65. Londergan added more points for the Ephs as he placed eleventh in 1:00.18. Finishing day two, the 800-yard freestyle relay team of King, Hodel, Friedberg and McBride swam a national B cut of 6:58.31 to place second.

Beginning the third and final day of competition the Ephs were solidly in first, but looking to increase their lead even more. To this end, the sprinters took to the pool for the 100-yard freestyle. Licon was the first to the wall, taking his second New England title of the meet with 45.01, a national A cut. Mackay touched in seventh with a 48.04 and Hodel was eighth in 48.40. Oraker’s 48.47 put him as the lucky thirteenth.

Switching extremes from sprint to distance, the mile (1650-yard freestyle) was another strong event for Williams. McBride won by five seconds to claim his third individual title of the meet and his time, 16:10.92, was another B cut. King and Doob placed fifth and sixth in 16:33.09 and 16:41.54, respectively. Swimming in the morning heats, Jesse Davis ’02 held on to finish 20th in 17:18.91.

Allen was the top finisher for Williams in the 50-yard backstroke, fourth in 24.83. He was followed by Poole in 25.38 (fifth). Simerman won the consolation final (ninth) in 25.32.

The 200-yard breaststroke was just as stacked as the 100 of the day before. This capturing third in a national B cut of 2:08.66. Shade was fifth in 2:10.33 and Gansner touched next for sixth (2:11.53). Wood won the consolation final with his 2:21.75 while Londergan’s 2:13.93 placed him eleventh.

In a race that was predominantly a battle between Amherst and Williams (each school having three swimmers in the final heat of eight) Williams took second, sixth and eighth in the 200-yard butterfly. Frink led the Ephs with his 1:55.89, which was a national B cut. Friedberg was sixth in 1:57.29 and Gamblin touched eighth (1:58.71). Faust and Morales also contributed to Williams’ score in as they finished eleventh (1:59.57) and fifteenth (2:03.48), respectively.

Not many Ephs swam the 100-yard individual medley, leaving Pickard and Cole to bring in points. Not about to disappoint, Pickard placed fifth in 54.80 and Cole was twelfth in 56.26.

As the divers once again took to the boards, Wendell showed his poise by finishing fourth in the 3-meter competition with 444.10 points. Barry Gross ’02 tallied 292.00 points to place eighth, while Mike Gross ’02 was 23rd with 224.75 points.

Capping off a tremendous meet, the team of Allen, Poole, Hodel and Licon swam a quick 3:04.82 to take second in the 400-yard freestyle relay, the last event. The time was a B cut. With this victory, Williams Swimming and Diving now has the distinction of having won the past 11 consecutive New England titles in both Men’s and Women’s swimming.

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