Men’s swimming claims 5th at NCAAs

After dominating the NESCAC swimming and diving championships in early March, 11 swimmers for the men’s team concluded their season at the NCAA Div. III championships, held at the University of Miami in Ohio. Nine swimmers gained All-American honors en route to a fifth-place finish, 50 points behind fourth place finishers Emory University.

The Ephs got off to a rough start on the first day when the very first relay, the 200 freestyle, was disqualified. Nevertheless, this energized the team to make up the lost points. Henry Felker ’08 raced to an 11th place finish in the 200 IM (1:53.14), while Chris Millen ’08 was placed sixth in 1:52.26. Ben Wampler ’11 placed the highest among any freshmen in the 50 freestyle with a time of 20.88, good enough for 15th place. The 400 medley relay of Worth MacDonald ’11, Tyler Bonewell ’09, Norman Scott ’09 and Wampler lived up to its seeding by finishing seventh overall in a time of 3:24.79.

The highlight of the second day was the 200 Medley Relay of Scott, Bonewell, Wentworth-Ping and Wampler, who raced to a NESCAC and school record time of 1:32.05 in the morning preliminaries. In the evening, the Eph quartet settled for fourth in the championship heat with a time of 1:32.11. Millen earned himself another top-eight finish when he placed sixth in the 400 IM (4:01.23). Scott, who broke his own school record in the morning, placed seventh in a very competitive finals heat. Fellow butterfly competitor Wentworth-Ping placed 12th in the event (49.89). Bonewell kept up the momentum with an eighth-place finish in the 100 butterfly. His morning swim of 56.56 was a new school record. The final event of the day was the 800 freestyle relay composed of Millen, David Lebovitz ’09, Michael Kirwan ’08 and Gary Roberson ’11, who placed seventh.

The final day was the most impressive for the Ephs. The day’s first event was the 1650 in which Roberson placed 13th with a time of 16:00.69. Following Roberson’s performance, Ben Bullitt ’08 earned fifth in the 200 backstroke, his first ever top-eighth finish, with a time of 1:51.20. Bonewell, despite breaking his own school record in the morning preliminaries with a time of 2:02.27, wasn’t able to replicate his morning swim because his goggles filled with water when he dove into the pool. Nevertheless, he raced to an impressive eighth-place finish.

In Williams’ strongest event on the day, perhaps in the entire championships, Millen, Wentworth-Ping and Scott gained All-American honors in the 200 butterfly. Millen broke the previous school and NESCAC record time in the event with a time of 1:48.84 in the morning preliminaries, only to see Middlebury’s John Dillon race to an even faster time. Wentworth-Ping would have taken the record if it had not been for Millen and Dillon swimming in the two previous heats. During the night finals, none of them were quite able to replicate their morning performances, with each falling a few places from their seed time. Millen placed third – his fourth All-American performance, Wentworth-Ping was sixth and Scott placed eighth. The final relay managed to gain two unexpected points in the 400 freestyle relay to finish the meet.

The outstanding performance of the team at NCAAs put an exclamation point on an incredible season highlighted by an 8-0 dual meet record and a dominating performance at the NESCAC championship. The team broke one new conference record and five new school records.

Head Coach Steven Kuster was pleased with the team’s performance. “We had some excellent morning swims and putting three people in the same final at nationals, that’s the first time we’ve done that on the men’s side,” he said. “There was a lot to feel good about at this meet. I think our 11 guys did a great job. All in all, a very good showing.”