Men’s swimming cruises past Conn. and Wesleyan

The 2014 to 2015 season so far has been one of the best seasons in recent memory for men’s swimming and diving. The team is currently sitting on a 5-0-1 record, 3-0 in the NESCAC, with its only tie coming as a result of a strong matchup against Div. I Boston College.

Last weekend, the men traveled to Middletown, Conn. to take part in a tri-meet against Conn. College and Wesleyan. Once again, the Ephs started the meet off strong, taking first and second place in the 200 medley relay. The quartet of Tim Kostolansky ’18, Jake Tamposi ’16, Benjamin Lin ’17 and Grant Johnson ’17 won the event by nearly a second and a half. The next event, the 1650 freestyle, was also a strong showing for the Ephs. Distance standout Christian Gronbeck ’15 once again won in decisive fashion, finishing with a time of 15:54.46, almost a full minute ahead of the nearest competitor. Adrien Downey ’15 touched second with a time of 16:41.73 in an exciting race that came down to the last 50 yards against Conn. College’s Mace Molina. Dan Druckman ’15, Bobby Rowledge ’18 and Jack Ferguson ’17 took fourth, fifth and sixth place, respectively. Alex McCarter ’16 then won the 200 freestyle in another exciting race, out touching Conn. College’s Martin Bo by just one sixth of a second to finish with a time of 1:45.61.

After the 200 freestyle, the Camels began to test the Ephs. Conn. College won the 100 backstroke, the 100 breaststroke, the 200 butterfly and the 50 freestyle before the first diving break occurred. Despite Williams’ early victories in the meet, the late run by Conn. College put them down by a point before swimming resumed. However, the Ephs came back, due in large part to the leadership of Head Coach Steven Kuster, who has recently returned to the Purple Valley from his sabbatical in Australia. McCarter had one of the most inspirational swims of the meet in the 200 backstroke, winning the event with a time of 1:52.35. McCarter’s time earned him an NCAA B Standard, a qualification employed to determine which events swimmers can race at the DIII National Championship. Following this performance, Tamposi delivered another huge win for the Ephs, winning the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:05.32. This was not only a personal best for Tamposi – an accomplishment that is rarely earned during in-season meets – but a strong enough performance to earn him an NCAA B Standard as well.

The Ephs continued carrying this momentum throughout the rest of the meet. Gronbeck once again took home a first place finish in the 500 freestyle, while Lin and Jon Yin ’16 finished first and second, respectively, in the 100 butterfly. In the final individual event of the meet, Timothy Lattimer ’15 touched with an impressively fast time of 4:04.91, over 4.5 seconds ahead of the second place finisher AJ Pite from Conn. College. Knox Young ’16, Peter McDonald ’16, Colin Hogan ’17 and Rowledge  all had outstanding swims in this event as well, finishing third, fifth, sixth, and seventh, respectively. The Ephs proceeded to win the 200 freestyle relay with McCarter, Johnson, John Hammond ’16, and John Freeman ’17 all splitting under 22 seconds. The men defeated Conn. College with a final score of 158-113 and Wesleyan with an overall tally of 221-68. Co-captain Chris Weihs said, “I was proud to see our guys step up and close some tight races.”

Williams earned a clear victory over a very strong Amherst team on Jan 10.

After Thanksgiving, the men were put to their first real test against Div. I rival Boston College. Historically, the Ephs have been competitive with the Eagles but have fallen just short of a win. This year’s meet was similarly contentious, beginning with the incredibly fast 200 medley relay. Williams placed second and third behind a pool record setting Boston College relay. The team rallied from this loss, starting with a runaway victory by Gronbeck in the 1000 freestyle with a time of 9:31.40. Downey, Druckman and Dan Needham ’18 all finished in the third through fifth spots as well, making the event one of the highest scoring events of the meet for the Ephs. Williams continued to rally after that point, especially in the backstroke events, where the team took three of the top four spots, including a first place finish from Lin, who touched in with a time of 50.07. The 200 backstroke was also a standout race for the Ephs, taking the top three places over the Eagles with Lin leading the pack. In the end, the meet came down to the 400 freestyle relay. Winning the meet required the Ephs to win the event or place second and third. The team, however, was overpowered in this sprint freestyle event, placing second and fourth behind some impressively fast Boston College relays. The ultimate tie between the Ephs and the Eagles is the best result the Ephs have achieved in recent memory against the Eagles.

Before Thanksgiving, the Ephs won two meets fairly handily against Springfield and Union, scoring 206 to Springfield’s 87 and 200 to Union’s 97.

The men have two very competitive meets coming up this weekend, competing against MIT on Friday and at Middlebury on Saturday.