Men’s swimming fought back after a rough start to place first at this year’s NESCAC championships. The victory marks the seventh consecutive championship win for the men.
“This meet was hyped as one of the closest NESCAC swimming championships yet,” co-captain Tyler Bonewell ’09 said. “It didn’t disappoint.”
After many second, third and fourth place finishes, the first day of competition at the NESCAC championships held at Wesleyan put the Ephs in second place overall. It was the depth of talent on the team that allowed Williams to remain competitive, only 66 points behind Tufts.
The day began with a disappointing 200 yard freestyle relay in which the men finished fifth with a time of 1:23.61. The 50 yard freestyle, however, gave co-captain Tyler Bonewell ’09 a chance to shine, with a second-place finish just behind NESCAC record holder James Longhurst.
The 50 yard butterfly was one of the most exciting races of the meet, with Norman Scott ’09 taking first with a NESCAC record-breaking time of 21.97. Timothy Ryan ’09 also swam well in the race, taking fifth place with a time of 22.90.
Gary Roberson ’11 captured third in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:31.21. The 50 yard backstroke resulted similarly with Worth Macdonald ’11 finishing in fourth place with a time of 24.12, and Dan Doran ’12 finishing seventh with a time of 24.73. Co-captain Thatcher Heumann ’09 claimed another second-place finish for Williams in the 200 yard individual medley with a final time of 1:54.68. Heumann touched the wall less than a half a second after the event winner.
In the one-meter diving, Alex Long ’12 took eighth place.
Despite struggles in certain events, the men ended Day 1 on a strong note, with a first place finish in the 400 medley relay. The A team swam a NESCAC record-breaking time of 3:22.10, setting the stage for the rest of the championship.
Day 2 began with a third place finish for the Williams men in the 200 medley relay; they competed in a fast field, evidenced by their meet record-breaking time of 1:32.26.
The men also competed outstandingly in the 1000 freestyle, sweeping first, second and third place and exemplifying the kind of swimming that moved the team into first place. Roberson won the event with a NESCAC record-breaking time of 9:20.56. David Thompson ’11 took second place with a time of 9:47.70 and Jeremy Goldstein ’09 took third in 9:47.78. The Ephs also took a first place finish in the 100 yard butterfly in which Scott swam a 48.89 to break the NESCAC record. Ryan took fourth in the event with a time of 50.46.
The Ephs struggled in the 200 yard freestyle, which saw their lead swimmer David Lebovitz ’09 finish in ninth. The men rebounded with strength, however, when Bonewell finished first in the 100 breaststroke. Macdonald’s time of 56.56 in the 100 backstroke was impressive and put him in second, but was not fast enough to beat out Conn. College’s Tim Walsh. The 800 relay team finished in 6:51.02. The impressive time, ahead of the previous pool record, put the relay in second place and served as a great finish to an exciting day.
Sunday, the final day of competition, proved thrilling as well, and began with a second place finish in the 1650 yard freestyle for Roberson. His time of 15:38.91 set a new meet record. Sam Blum ’10 took fourth in the 200 yard backstroke, with Adam Hollander ’10 following just behind him in fifth place. Williams fared poorly in the 100 freestyle, as no swimmers placed above 18th, but was able to jump right back into the competition with the 200 yard breaststroke. Bonewell’s pool record-breaking time of 2:03.33 earned him first place in the event. Williams enjoyed another victory in the 200 yard freestyle, in which Scott’s time of 1:49.41 broke the championship meet record.
The day concluded with some disappointing performances in the three-meter diving and 400 yard freestyle relay, in which the Ephs finished sixth and fifth respectively. Those events, however, could not detract from the excitement of winning the meet overall.
Indeed, the team’s achievement was a testament to the men’s ability to rally and top rivals that had challenged them through the season. “Amherst and Tufts have been formidable opponents all year long, but our guys really stepped it up and proved that we are still the team to beat in the conference,” Bonewell said. “We were pegged as the underdog going in this weekend. However, despite any sort of setbacks we experienced throughout the year, the guys gave everything they had to make sure we accomplished the goal we set from the very beginning of the season: to bring home a NESCAC championship.”
The men’s performances this weekend indicate that many members of the team are in prime condition for the upcoming NCAA championships, which take place on March 19.