A new era: Men’s swim/dive recaptures NESCAC title

Men’s swimming and diving had a mission this season: to avenge last year’s loss of the NESCAC title. Last weekend, they accomplished their goal in spectacular fashion, beating the second place Lord Jeffs by 73.5 points to reestablish their NESCAC dominance. Coming from behind to win the close races, the Ephs took the lead Friday night and held onto it throughout the entire weekend. Williams finished with a total of 1,624.5 points. Amherst, whom the Ephs had lost to in a dual meet earlier this season, trailed with 1551 points.

The men started strong on Friday night, picking up national cuts in multiple events. Notably, Williams had four top eight finishes in the 50 fly, with Blake Albohm ’06 taking first and teammate Brad Brecher ’06 finishing third. In the 500, Chris “Scooter” Vollmend-Carstens ’04 and Brian Carey ’06 picked up additional points for the Ephs with their respective second and third place finishes.

Will Cunningham ’06 and Seth Borland ’03 led the team in the 200 IM. Cunningham finished first, reaching his national A qualification time and Borland placed third with a national B cut.

The 400 medley relay finished in second place on Friday, an accomplishment worth 58 points for the Ephs. However, due to a slight error in the paperwork, the relay was disqualified and the Ephs lost a substantial number of points, throwing the outcome of the meet into question.

However, this unfortunate loss would motivate the Ephs to step it up on Saturday and fight for each point along the way.

On Friday, Eph divers also placed well. Last year, diving had been an area of weakness and cost the team a number of points. This year, Elliot Crafton ’06 finished seventh on the one-meter board, adding unexpected points to the Eph total.

“I have never been prouder of a team in my time here at Williams,” Head Coach Steve Kuster said. “They showed more heart and determination in the last three days than I have seen in four years. They swam amazingly well, responded incredibly well to adversity and won with class. I couldn’t be happier for them.”

Saturday night, the Williams men swam unbelievably fast, coming from behind and finishing ahead of the other NESCAC schools, including Amherst.

Borland, seeded fourth going into the 400 IM, came from behind during the last 100 yards to finish first, picking up a national B consideration time. The distance duo of Vollmend-Carstens and Carey finished first and fourth, respectively, in the 1000, snagging additional points for the Ephs. Nick Pepe ’05, seeded first going into the 100 fly, fought fierce Amherst competition to pull ahead in a close race and win by three tenths of a second. Pepe’s time of 50.78 was a national B consideration time. These close races kept the Ephs in first place.

In the 200 freestyle, Cunningham and Brad Brecher ’06 took the first two places for the Ephs. Cunningham finished with a national A qualification time. Saturday’s excitement ended with the Ephs taking first by a considerable margin in the 800 freestyle relay.

The Ephs were still ahead after Saturday’s session by 70 points. However, the men knew that Sunday would be tough. Amherst had some strong finishes in Sunday’s stroke events, which could have affected the final scores. But, the Ephmen rose to the occasion and posted some quick swims.

The Ephs got off to a strong start on Sunday with Vollmand-Carstens winning the mile and picking up his national A qualification time. Cunningham picked up his third first-place finish of the weekend in the 200 back, finishing with another national A qualification time. However, Amherst also had three top finishers in the 200 back, narrowing the point margin.

The weekend ended with the 400 freestyle relay. The Ephs finished second behind Hamilton College. Despite strong performances in individual events on Sunday, Amherst fell to fifth in the final relay, and could not match Williams’ point total.

Every point counted this weekend at the NESCAC championship meet. The Ephs battled in every heat and picked up points in all the places crucial to guarantee them a win.

Co-captain Nate Krissoff ’03 is proud of his team’s triumphs: “We fought for every inch of this weekend’s victory,” Krissoff said.

Two of the Eph swimmers were recognized for their outstanding achievements. Co-captain Borland accumulated the highest number of points over his four-year swimming career and Cunningham grabbed the Swimmer of the Meet award.

A number of Ephmen will continue to train over the next three weeks for the NCAA championships, which will be held at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

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