Men’s swim and dive drops first regional championship in 15 years

Although they set many records and recorded many lifetime-best swims, men’s swimming and diving placed second (1,422 points) in this weekend’s NESCAC Men’s Swimming and Diving Championship, held at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. Winning the Championship was Middlebury College (1,544), whose team the Ephs defeated in a dual meet earlier in the season by a score of 168-126.

According to Head Coach Steve Kuster, “We were beaten by a better team this weekend. Middlebury swam great and they scored a ton of points in a couple of events in which we did not score many.”

This weekend’s loss was the first regional men’s swimming and diving championship not won by Williams in 15 years. Despite losing to Middlebury, Williams still beat nine other teams, including Little Three rivals Amherst (1,301) and Wesleyan (529).

“We swam very well,” said Kuster. “We had numerous lifetime best times and we had guys stepping up, swimming their hearts out and performing well.”

With both Williams and Middlebury swimming extremely well this weekend, the key factor in Middlebury’s victory was diving. This year, Williams did not enter any male divers in the Championship. Without the one-meter and three-meter diving events, in which Middlebury earned 114 team points, Middlebury would have only won by just eight points – the difference between a first and a third place finish in a single relay event.

Leading the way for the Ephs throughout the meet were the two senior co-captains, Elliot Gansner ’02 and Ben Doob ’02.

Gansner was the Ephs’ sole first place finisher of the first night when he won the 50-yard breaststroke (26.46). In his final NESCAC Championship meet, Gansner’s time set meet, pool and NESCAC records. Joining Gansner in the final was first-year Jon Loveless ’05, who finished in fifth place (27.49).

In the 500-yard freestyle preliminaries Friday morning, Doob’s time of 4:32.70 also set meet, pool and NESCAC records. Unfortunately, in the finals, Amherst’s Rob Winograd broke Doob’s new record. In this event, Jeff McBride ’02 was the top Williams finisher, picking up second place (4:33.07). Doob finished third (4:35.06) and Chris Vollmand-Carstens ’04 captured fifth place (4:39.35).

The highlight of the Championship for the Ephs was Saturday’s 400-yard individual medley final, in which Williams captured four of the top five places and picked up a total of 131 points.

Doob won the event (4:00.36), setting both pool and NESCAC Championship records, along with qualifying for Nationals.

Doob was followed by Seth Borland ’03, who finished second (4:07.64) while Bryan Welsh ’05 picked up fourth place (4:11.38) and Todd Gamblin ’02 captured fifth place (4:11.41). Winning the consolation final was Alex Lawton ’05, who placed ninth overall (4:18.65).

Vollmond-Carstens finished second in the 1000-yard freestyle (9:28.20). Also scoring points for Williams in this event were Kevin Koernig ’05 and Eric Manchester ’05, who finished in 11th (10:33.18) and 12th (10:35.73) places, respectively.

For the second year in a row, McBride, who was honored as NESCAC’s Most Outstanding Swimmer in the Last Four Years, won the 200-yard freestyle (1:41.74). McBride was joined in the event’s championship final by Zach O’Brien ’03, who finished in fifth place (1:44.66).

Continuing their dominance of distance events, the Ephs captured the top three places – all with national qualifying times – in the 1650-yard freestyle race, earning 98 team points.

Winning the race again for the second year in a row was McBride. He was followed by Vollmond-Carstens (15:52.80) and Doob (15:56.94). Also scoring points for the Ephmen was Koernig, who placed 16th (18:15.28).

Williams picked up 77 points in the 50-yard butterfly championship final, while Nate Krissoff ’03 finished in second place (23.47) and Nick Pepe ’05 and Dan Morales ’02 captured fourth (23.67) and seventh (23.87) places, respectively. Borland also finished in fourth place (1:55.00) in the 200-yard individual medley.

In the 100-yard butterfly, Pepe finished third (51.20) and Morales finished in fifth place (52.86). Gansner was the top Williams finisher in the 100-yard breaststroke. He finished in fourth place with a time of 57.91 seconds.

In the 100-yard freestyle race, Krissoff placed third (47.55) while Morales finished 10th (48.40). Gamblin was the highest Williams finisher in the 200-yard backstroke where he placed fourth (1:56.52).

Placing third in the 200-yard breaststroke was Gansner (2:07.24). He was joined in the championship final by David Lewis ’03, who finished in eighth place (2:16.01).

Welsh ’05 finished in third place (1:55.84) in the 200-yard butterfly, just 12 hundredths of a second ahead of Borland, who finished in fourth place (1:55.86). Winning the consolation final in this event was Pepe, who finished ninth (1:56.19).

The relay events were met with mixed success this past weekend.

Out of the 11 NESCAC teams competing, Williams finished in third place (1:25.48) in the 200-yard freestyle relay and fourth place (3:30.63) in the 400-yard medley relay. Swimming on the freestyle team were Pepe, Krissoff, Morales and McBride while Gamblin, Gansner, Pepe and McBride swam on the medley team.

Williams ended the second night on a high note by capturing the 800-yard freestyle relay race (6:54.98). This winning relay team consisted of Doob, O’Brien, Vollmond-Carstens and McBride. Also on Saturday, Williams finished fifth in the 200-yard medley relay (1:36.64). Swimming on this team were Doob, Gansner, Krissoff and Morales.

In the final event of the Championship, Williams finished third in the 400-yard freestyle relay (3:08.63), qualifying them for Nationals and earning 56 points for the team. Swimming on this team were Krissoff, Pepe, Borland and McBride.

“Our guys competed very well, handled themselves very well and swam fast,” said Kuster. “We just didn’t have enough to get it done.”

While this meet ends the season for some Ephmen, many Williams swimmers will continue training for the NCAA Div. III National Championship at the Miami University Sports and Recreation Aquatic Center in Oxford, Ohio on March 21-23.

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