Men’s swimming tops Midd, UVM in invitational

Men’s swimming (7-2) closed out the regular season with an invitational against Middlebury and the University of Vermont last weekend on the heels of a Jan. 30 triumph over Middlebury, when the Ephs put the Panthers in their place with a 175-122 victory. With the win, Williams improved to 7-2 on the season and are undefeated in the NESCAC.

Co-captain Adam Hollander ’10 commented on the team’s success. “The team is looking great,” he said. “We are over the hump as far as the hard part of training is concerned.”

This year’s team is characterized by its fierce determination. After losing twice during the first meet of the season – Williams fell to Div. I rivals Fordham and Boston College – the men have rattled off seven wins in a row, with most coming in dominant fashion. Only Amherst came within 50 points of the men during their winning streak.

This weekend’s unscored invitational served as a tune-up for the NESCAC tournament for several Eph swimmers. The way the team performs at this invite each year sets the bar for their performance at the NESCAC tournament.

“The invite was a last chance for people to race before NESCACs in any events they felt they either wanted more experience in or just to have fun and swim off events,” Hollander said. “It also serves as the championship meet for people not swimming at NESCACs.”

Hollander noted that two Eph swimmers, Peter Skipper ’13 and Chris Picardo ’13, swam very well to end their season this weekend at the Middlebury Invite. Skipper placed fifth in the 100 butterfly and seventh in the 100 freestyle. He also participated in the 200 freestyle relay and 200 yard medley relay A teams, both of which placed 2nd. Picardo placed ninth in the 200 freestyle, sixth in the 100 butterfly and second in the 200 IM, in addition to joining Skipper on the 400 freestyle relay ‘A’ team, which placed fourth.

The Williams ‘A’ and ‘B’ 400 medley relay teams placed fourth and fifth, respectively. DJ Taylor ’13 made a major contribution to the team’s result with his domination of the 1650 freestyle, which he won in a scorching time of 16:50.54.. The Ephs also dominated the 400 IM: Gary Roberson ’11 won in a time of 4:15.42, while teammates John Guiffre ’12 and Jordan Hollander ’10 took third and fourth, respectively. John Armstrong ’13 won the 200 freestyle in 1:46.87 for the Ephs as well, supported by teammate Chris Picardo ’13, who came in eighth. Paul Dyrkacz ’13 also contributed to the win, as he swept the 100 backstroke. The 400 freestyle relay was also a Williams success: the Williams ‘A’ team, including Taylor, Picardo, Skipper and Worth Macdonald ’11.

Though a number of athletes are done, the rest of the team is still looking ahead to postseason competition: “Now we have a break from meets to focus on fine-tuning and tapering going into NESCACs,” Hollander said.

According to Hollander, the team focuses on having fun during the two weeks before the NESCACs, providing a break from the stersses of competition. “The team’s focus right now is embracing the beginning of taper with more specific focus in workout then simply working hard and building a base,” he said. “The second week of taper marks a change in morale usually as workouts begin to get significantly shorter as they drop in yardage as well as overall difficulty. It makes practices a lot more enjoyable, fun and lighthearted which really helps mentally with the taper to get us excited to see how our hard work will pay off as we get closer to the NESCACs.”

The Panthers learned firsthand about the team’s resolve during the teams’ competition on Jan. 30. After taking first place during the first race by six hundredths of a second, Middlebury watched as Williams dominated the next few events. The Ephs took eight of the nine top spots in the next three events and firmly cemented their place as the best men’s swimming team in the NESCAC. Led by young talent Dyrkacz, who had first-place finishes in the 200 backstroke and 200 free, and Phil Treesh ’13, who laid down a first-place finish in the 100 backstroke, the Ephs looked dominant. Chris Corbett ’13 also contributed to the team’s success with a victory in the 200 backstroke, which he won with a scorching time of 1:56.70. Corbett also took second in the 200 freestyle.

The meet with Middlebury concluded the Div. III meets for the season and left Williams with a perfect record in the NESCAC for the year. Both of the Ephs’ losses this season have come at the hands of Div. I opponents, namely Fordham and Boston College on Dec. 5.

This year’s NESCAC Tournament is being hosted by Williams February 26-28. The races start at 10 a.m. each day, while the finals for corresponding events will begin at 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.