Men’s Swimming and Diving | Jumbos look to repeat strong NESCAC Championship showing
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 02:02
The men’s swimming and diving team will start the championship portion of their season this weekend as they head to Wesleyan for the NESCAC Championships. The Jumbos will look to repeat their top-three performance from last year despite a young team and tougher competition.
While No. 5 Williams and No. 9 Amherst are expected to battle for the top spot, the Jumbos find themselves on the next tier, battling with No. 19 Conn.College to prove they remain a top team in what is one of the toughest conferences in Division III.
Coach Adam Hoyt is optimistic that his 24 swimmers are peaking at the right time.
“I’ve been most surprised by the consistent effort in training that the guys have put together this season,” Hoyt said. “I think that effort will pay off twofold come championships this weekend.”
While the Jumbos send out a fairly inexperienced team, they have the talent to pull off some impressive individual finishes and surprise wins. Freshmen Michael Winget, Anthony DeBenedetto and Cam Simko have been impressive in their first seasons, and their versatility will provide much needed points for the Jumbos across a number of different events. For the Jumbos to have the kind of weekend they’re hoping for, the three of them need to provide the same firepower they have shown all year.
DeBenedetto is seeded first in the 200-meter butterfly, over a second ahead of the two closest competitors from Amherst, and is also expected to place in the 200-meter freestyle.
But while the freshmen have dominated the headlines much of the season, the Jumbos have been led by a strong junior class, including Drew Berman, Christian Jones and Kyle Savidge, all of whom have big-meet experience and should be in position to surprise some higher-seeded swimmers.
“In the past two years, the biggest thing I’ve learned at NESCACs is that you shouldn’t put a limit on your potential,” Savidge said. “I plan on going into the meet this year without any specific time goals so that I don’t put any limits on what I am capable of.”
In the diving well, junior Johann Schmidt is favored to win the 1- and 3-meter dives and repeat his victories from last year. The defending champ in both events faces tough competition from Asher Lichtig and Colin White of Amherst and Rohan Bhatt from Williams.
Bhatt has defeated Schmidt once already this year, but the 11-dive championship format will play to Schmidt’s strengths of consistency and versatility. Schmidt is aware that he’ll be expected to carry the Jumbos in the diving well.
“I feel more prepared physically and mentally than ever,” Schmidt said. “As long as I stay confident and healthy throughout the weekend, I know I will do well again. My team needs me to score big points as well so that is another factor pushing me to succeed.”
Finally, the Jumbos have typically fielded strong relay teams, and a number of those teams will be looking not only to score at the meet, but also to make NCAA B-cut.
“Relays at Tufts are very fast and very competitive and I believe every relay has a very good chance of going to NCAAs,” Winget said.
The meet begins on Feb. 22, and the Jumbos will be relying on a mix of successful veterans and talented upstarts. Even if they are on the outside looking in on paper, the team knows that there is no better moment to drop their times than when it matters most.