Men's Swimming and Diving | Jumbos take fourth at NESCAC Championships
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 02:02
The men’s swimming and diving team entered the NESCAC Championships this weekend under the radar. While national No. 5 Williams and No. 9 Amherst went one-two as expected, scoring 1936.5 and 1824.5 points, respectively, the Jumbos found themselves in the next tier, battling No. 19 Conn. College and Middlebury for a top-three finish. Ultimately, the Jumbos took home a fourth-place finish in the conference tournament, as junior diver Johann Schmidt won the title in the men’s three-meter dive
For the first two days, the Jumbos found themselves in a delicate position. They entered Sunday in fourth place with 737 points, while Conn. College looked as if it had third place locked up with 810.5 and Middlebury were breathing down their necks in fifth with 721.5 points.
However, Sunday’s events went the Jumbos’ way, as they made an impressive run propelled by a 3-4 finish in the 200-yard backstroke by freshman Michael Winget and junior Kyle Savidge and held onto fourth place.
“I knew Winget would have a top-three swim in that event after watching his in-season performances and his work ethic in practices,” Savidge said. “I had been working hard to keep up, and the challenge of racing him in practice led to the improvement in my time from last year.”
In the end, the Jumbos’ strong day- three showing was not enough to vault them into third, as they fell just 18 points short of Conn. College’s squad, 1098 to 1080. For a young and inexperienced team, however, the meet showed how far the Jumbos have progressed throughout the year and how close they are to being considered a serious national contender.
“We fell a little short of where we wanted to be,” junior Andrew Turk said. “But we came away with a lot of good swims, more total point than last year, and an idea of some things we need to work on for next season.”
The Jumbos left the meet with six NCAA “B” qualifying times. Winget led the team with two of those qualifiers, placing sixth in a fast 100-yard backstroke before breaking the school record and posting a qualifying time, along with Savidge, in the 200.
Freshman Anthony DeBenedetto qualified during the preliminary rounds of the 200-yard butterfly on Sunday with a school record, which he followed up with a sixth-place finish in the finals. Junior Christian Jones also recorded a qualifying time, finishing 10th in the 400-yard individual medley.
Turk and Winget teamed up with junior Eric Douglas and sophomore John Devine in the 200-yard medley relay to take fifth place. The relay time was the only one for the Jumbos that made it under the “B” qualifying time.
For the third straight year, Schmidt and Amherst’s Colin White went head to head for the championships in both the one- and three-meter diving events. However, for the first time in his collegiate career, Schmidt did not come home with titles in both events.
On Saturday, White was able to eke out a win on the one-meter board, but Schmidt responded on Sunday with a victory on the three-meter board, winning his fifth career NESCAC title.
Schmidt’s performance won him the honor of Diver of the Meet for the third straight year, and diving coach Brad Snodgrass earned his third consecutive Diving Coach of the Year award.
Schmidt will compete again on Mar. 1 in Springfield as part of the NCAA Zone Diving Regionals. If all goes according to plan, he will head to Conroe, Texas, three weeks later for the NCAA Championships, where he’ll look to add two more championship victories to his one-meter board title in 2012.
Meanwhile, the Jumbos’ other swimmers that notched “B” qualifying times in the meet must now wait to see if their times give them an opportunity to compete in this year’s NCAA Championships.