Men’s swimming and diving finished up its season on a high note over spring break, posting a top-10 finish at the Div. III National Championships at Indiana University in Indianapolis. The men amassed several personal records and one individual national title en route to an eighth-place team finish behind a total 178 points. Denison took the championship title for the second year in a row over rival Kenyon.
On March 24, the final day of competition, standout Paul Dyrkacz ’13 earned second place in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 1:59.95. The finish was an improvement from Dyrkacz’s fourth-place finish in the event last year. Dyrkacz was joined in the breaststroke by co-captain Greg McElroy ’12, who made the consolation finals after dropping nearly two seconds from his time at NESCACs. McElroy’s breaststroke was his first NCAA finals swim but his last as an Eph. He placed sixth in the consolation final, capping off his successful career with a scoring place at NCAAs. DJ Taylor ’13 also made his NCAA finals debut that night, touching the wall with a blistering 1:50.19 in the morning to compete in the consolation final where he would place 14th.
On March 22, as Dyrkacz successfully defended his national title in the 400 IM. The junior charged ahead during the butterfly and backstroke legs, outsplitting the entire field in the breaststroke. After taking a commanding lead, he never looked back. Dyrkacz won the event by over two seconds. Head Coach Steven Kuster was thrilled with Dyrkacz’s performance. “Winning back-to-back titles is never easy, and is a great accomplishment,” Kuster said. “There’s only one other male swimmer who has done it in my 13 years here, so it’s certainly very impressive.”
Later that night Thad Ricotta ’15 had another impressive swim, breaking the milestone 50-second barrier in the 100 butterfly to qualify for the consolation final. The Ephs found another major scorer in Vieth, who continued his breakout year with a championship final debut in the 200 freestyle. Tom Vieth ’13 swam a lifetime-best 1:38.81 in the morning to qualify for the top heat, where he took sixth. Representing Williams in the eighth-place 200 freestyle relay were Ricotta, Alexander Nanda ’15, Vieth and Daeus Jorento ’13. Spurred on by Jorento’s consistently quick anchor swims, the relay grabbed All-American honors in the event.
The first day of competition on March 21 saw the Ephs demonstrate lots of excitement and energy. The men showed impressive depth by putting three swimmers in the consolation final of the 500 freestyle. Vieth, Christian Gronbeck ’15 and Ricotta all swam lifetime bests in the morning to earn a place in the night swim. Vieth outdid himself again at night, swimming a 4:29.84 en route to a first-place finish in the consolation final. In one of the most exciting races of the night, Dyrkacz racked up points for his team by taking silver in the 200 IM.
The Ephs’ top-10 finish marks the team’s third in the past three years. Under Kuster, the men have cracked the top five on five occasions in the past 13 years.
The team graduates six seniors this year: McElroy, John Guiffre ’12, Stuart Horgan ’12, Ryan Marrano ’12, Davis Filippell ’12 and Alex Long ’12. The returning athletes are looking forward to the offseason before starting preseason workouts in September. Dyrkacz, who qualified for U.S Swimming Olympic Trials in the 200 breastroke last summer, will train throughout the spring before traveling to Omaha, Neb., to compete in June.