Men’s Swimming and Diving | Jumbos finish season 4−4, send Schmidt to NCAAs
Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 09:03
Going into the season, the 2012−2013 men’s swimming and diving team was, on paper, a curiosity. The Jumbos were returning national champion diver junior Johann Schmidt and had a strong group of junior swimmers, but it looked like most of the other spots would go to a group of talented−but−untested freshmen.
In the pool, however, the Jumbos proved that any worries about inexperience were for naught.
A tough dual−meet season led to a 4−4 record. All three of Tufts’ Div. III losses came to top−15 ranked teams (No. 1 MIT, No. 5 Williams, and No. 15 Keene State) with the fourth coming to solid Div. I team Boston College. Their lone NESCAC loss was against the Ephs, and an impressive win against No. 19 Conn. College to start off the season proved the Jumbos were ready for what would turn out to be a historically fast year in Div. III.
Schmidt continued to be one of the best divers in the country, and he is the only Jumbo still competing. He won his fifth NESCAC title on the 3−meter board and placed second in the 1−meter to win his third consecutive Diver of the Year title. Following his wins in both events at the NCAA Zone Diving Qualifier, Schmidt will head to Conroe, Texas where he looks to be the first Jumbo to win both diving events.
For the swimmers, the season ended a couple weeks ago after a fourth−place finish at NESCACs that included six NCAA “B” qualifying times. This was a mild disappointment, as none of the “B” times made the final cut for NCAAs, but coach Adam Hoyt believes the team performed better than what most people expected.
“Given that we’re a fairly young team, I wasn’t sure how they would handle the pressure of performing on the big stage at the end of the year,” Hoyt said. “But they all stepped up and put together some great performances.”
Freshmen Michael Winget, Anthony DeBenedetto and Cam Simko exceeded expectations. In events ranging from the 50−meter freestyle to the 200−meter butterfly, the group introduced themselves as future stars in the NESCAC. All three contributed top−eight finishes at the conference championship meet, and Winget and DeBenedetto were each named NESCAC Performers of the Week during the season.
Junior Kyle Savidge made the switch from freestyle distance races to the backstroke despite past success in the former. The decision paid off when he finished fourth in the NESCAC 200−meter backstroke with a “B” qualifier.
The distance swimmers were one of the less−heralded groups on the team, but they proved to be one of the strongest. junior Christian Jones showed consistency throughout the season. He and Winget were the only Tufts swimmers to have individual wins in the dual meet against MIT, and Jones concluded his season with an impressive NESCAC meet that saw a “B” qualifier in the 400−meter individual medley. Fellow distance swimmers junior Matthew Wiens and freshman Tyler Lueck added impressive performances at the biggest meets of the season.
Sophomore John Devine was one of the most improved swimmers on the team. He ended the season as a sprint specialist who found his way into nearly all of the relays that competed at NESCACs.
Next year, the Jumbos will return nearly all of their top individual performers. There were only five seniors on this team, and the Jumbos will need to continue to build without their leadership.
But for the returning swimmers, next season will hopefully serve as a turning point. Next year, the Jumbos believe they have the talent and, unlike this season, the experience, to finish as a top−20 team nationally.
“The end of the season is bittersweet for everyone,” Winget said. “But in talking to my teammates, everyone is excited to keep working hard and make next year even better.”