March 17-20 saw men’s swimming head to the University of Minnesota campus with hopes of continuing a remarkable year with a strong performance at the NCAA Div. III Championships. The team showed improvement in team standings from last year, garnering 160 points to come in ninth place overall after finishing 19th last season.
Highlighting the men’s meet was Ben Wampler ’12, who clinched second place in the 100 free with a time of 44.41 and also finished sixth in the 50 free in just 20.56. Gary Roberson ’11 shattered a 13-year-old school record in the 200 freestyle, grabbing third place in 1:39.16, just one one-hundredth of a second behind first place finisher Ian Stewart-Bates of Kenyon. Roberson also claimed an eighth-place finish in both the 500 and 1650 freestyle.
Qualifying for individual finals was Paul Dyrkacz ’13, who finished in 4:00.07 for 10th in the 400 IM and swam a 2:03.96 200 breaststroke for a 14th place finish. Chris Corbett ’13 also represented the Ephs in the 400 IM and 100 and 200 breaststroke.
The 400 free relay team also performed extremely well. Wampler was joined by teammates Roberson, Graham Righi ’13 and Phil Treesh ’13 in the 400 free relay to finish seventh in a school record time of 3:03.60.
“We made some real improvement this year in our depth and top end with a bunch of swimmers stepping up big and the addition of an unprecedented freshman class,” co-captain Adam Hollarder ’10 said when asked about the staggering improvement over last year’s result.
The team is not worried about the impact of losing seven seniors going into next year: as Hollander said, this year’s result at NCAAs came “without any seniors scoring, which means good things for next year.”
Co-captain Henry Blackford ’10 concurred with Hollander’s optimistic outlook, especially because of the experience the underclassmen now have. “With another NESCAC championship under their belt and some solid swims at NCAAs, the future looks particularly bright for the team,” he said.
Next year the men will retain the bulk of the team: 22 Ephs will return to swim for the men next season, including 12 freshmen who will hopefully continue to build on the program’s recent success to even further improve upon past NCAA results.