Men’s swimming sent a 14-man group to Shenandoah, Texas to compete in the 2015 NCAA Div. III National Championship from March 18 to 21. After four days of competition, the men finished in third place overall, which was the highest finish for Williams since 1983.
The first day of competition proved to be an outstanding start for the Ephs. To begin the meet, co-captain Christian Gronbeck ’15 and Thad Ricotta ’15 placed fifth and sixth overall in the 500 freestyle. Gronbeck also secured a new school record with his morning swim. In the 200 IM, fellow Tim Lattimer ’15 finished 10th overall with a blazingly fast time of 1:49.55. To finish out the session, the quartet of Benjamin Lin ’17, Jake Tamposi ’16, Alex McCarter ’16 and Ricotta sped to third place in the 200 medley relay, finishing with a new school and NESCAC conference record time of 1:28.40. Div. III powerhouses Kenyon and Emory narrowly out-touched Williams.
Day Two was equally strong for the Ephs. The action began with the 200 freestyle relay where the quartet of John Hammond ’16, Grant Johnson ’17, Alexander Nanda ’15 and McCarter finished 11th overall with a time of 1:22.21, just barely missing the school record. Next up, in the 400 IM, Lattimer destroyed the competition in the consolation final, touching the wall in a time of 3:53.00, four full seconds ahead of his closest competitor.
In the 100 butterfly, Lin represented Williams in the consolation final, placing 16th overall with a time of 50.33. In the championship final, Ricotta touched in fourth place with a time of 48.22, which was enough for a new school record.
Finally, in the closing event of the night, the 400 medley team of Lin, Tamposi, Ricotta and Nanda stepped up to protect their spot as the first place team. In the morning, the quartet posted a time of 3:14.84, which was enough to give them the top seed going into the night as well as a new national record. The group held off the competition, becoming only the second-ever Williams’ men’s relay to win a national title. The last relay to win a title was the 1982 400 medley relay. The group touched with a time of 3:13.49, which was a new team, NESCAC and NCAA record by over 1.5 seconds. After the first two days, the Ephs were sitting in fourth place overall.
On Day Three of the competition, Ricotta led off the session by taking fourth in the 200 butterfly. Following that, Williams had several strong performances in the 100 backstroke. Lin touched in first place with a time of 47.77. In the 400 medley relay, Lin led off in a time of 47.00. Although his time didn’t beat his national record setting time from earlier in the meet, it was still enough to win. Tim Kostolansky ’18 represented Williams in the consolation final, placing 15th overall with a time of 49.64.
In the 100 breaststroke, Tamposi charged forward in the consolation final, taking 10th place with a time of 55.42.
In the 400 medley relay, the quartet of Will Brown ’15, Johnson, Gronbeck and Ricotta took fourth overall with a time of 6:36.54. Johnson led off the group in a personal best time. Gronbeck and Brown also contributed personal best splits to the relay. The time was enough for a new school record and narrowly missed the conference record.
On the fourth and final day of competition, the Ephs started off with distance standout Gronbeck taking fourth place in the 1,650-yard freestyle event. His time of 15:21.71 was enough for a new school and NESCAC record.
In the 200 backstroke, Lin sped to the wall in a time of 1:46.06 to capture fourth place. McCarter, who placed 12th overall with a time of 1:48.40, joined him in the finals.
In the 200 breaststroke, Lattimer finished off his career with a fifth-place finish and a new best time of 1:59.99. On the three-meter board, Rohan Bhatt ’15 placed 13th overall with a score of 463.60.
The Ephs closed out the weekend by dominating the field in the 400 freestyle relay consolation heat. The team of Johnson, McCarter, Ricotta and Nanda touched in a time of 2:59.81, a full two seconds faster than their initial seed time, and a new school and NESCAC record.
After finishing in eighth place at NCAA’s for the last three seasons, the Ephs secured a third place finish, the team’s highest finish since 1982.
“I couldn’t be happier with how this year turned out,” said Head Coach Steve Kuster. “The seniors did a fantastic job of motivating the team in the preseason, and providing a strong leadership core throughout the year. Additionally, interim head coach Nick Stone and Gary Roberson also did an outstanding job in my absence. Obviously, placing in the top three at nationals is always a goal, and I’m so proud of every one of the boys who stepped up and made that happen.”
In addition to their impressive performances at Nationals, two Ephs also qualified for the Olympic Trials by completing in the Speedo Sectionals in Indianapolis, Ind. Ricotta qualified for the 200-meter butterfly (his time 2:01.06 – trials cut 2:01.99) while teammate Lin qualified for 100-Meter Backstroke (his time 56.44 – trials cut 57.19).
At the conclusion of the men’s season, the Ephs will graduate Bhatt, Brown, Gronbeck, Lattimer, Nanda, Ricotta, Adrien Downey ’15, Dan Druckman ’15, Andrew Nemeth ’15 and co-captain Chris Weihs ’15.