Numerous weeks of intense practices and early workouts culminated in the men’s swimming season finale this weekend at Middlebury College. On Thursday morning, the Cardinals packed their bags and piled into buses to make the long journey north for the 2015 Swimming NESCAC Championships. Just a week after the women’s team competed so impressively at home in its championships, the guys looked to ride their momentum into the weekend’s events. Despite encountering numerous obstacles throughout the season, a resolute performance against fellow NESCAC rivals and a spot on the podium were the only things on the team’s mind.
The action began Friday with events including the 200- and 500-yard freestyle; the 50-yard breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly, and freestyle; the 200-yard individual medley; the 400-yard medley relay; and finally the 1-meter diving event. By the close of business, defending champions Williams found themselves atop the leaderboard, followed by Amherst and Conn College. The Cardinals ended the day in eighth place, edging out Colby, Hamilton, and Trinity.
Action resumed Saturday with a change of pace as athletes competed in a fresh lineup of events. Included were the 200-yard medley relay; the 400-yard individual relay; the 100-yard butterfly, breaststroke, and backstroke; the 1000-yard freestyle; and finally the 3-meter diving events. Despite strong efforts by all of the teams, the standings remained identical to those from Friday with Williams leading the pack and the Cardinals trailing in eighth.
Tensions were high on Sunday as the opportunities to gain points dwindled. On the agenda for the weekend’s finale were the 200-yard backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly; 100-yard freestyle; 400-yard freestyle medley; 1650-yard freestyle; and a second 3-meter diving event. Coming into these events, the Cardinals were faced with a monumental task as they hoped to break into the top five. Unfortunately, the championships concluded as they had begun, with Williams, Amherst, and Conn College securing first, second and third places, and Wesleyan finishing eighth.
Overall, the weekend was a success for the Cardinals, who had placed tenth in the three NESCAC championships leading up to this one, edging out only Trinity. This year, however, the men nearly doubled their overall score as they sailed past not only Trinity, but Colby and Hamilton as well.
When asked where this sudden burst of energy came from, Max Distler ’18 quickly pointed to an increased sense of camaraderie surrounding the team.
“From the first day of competition to the last, we all supported each other’s swims, which provided the basis for our super successful weekend,” Distler said.
Additionally, six Wesleyan records were shattered. Billy Hepner ’16 placed eighth in the 50-yard breaststroke with a time of 26.16. Ali Pourmaleki ’18 put up an outstanding 1:51.84 in the 200-yard butterfly, a time that earned him an NCAA “B” cut. Swimmer Spencer Tang ’18 touched the wall in 17th place as he proceeded to set a new record time of 52.42 in the 100-yard backstroke. He also claimed a new standard in the 200-yard backstroke, finishing 18th with a time of 1:54.70. Tang, Jacques Bazile ’16, Erik Yan ’15, and Wesley Ho ’15 set the fourth Wesleyan record with a time of 1:34.04 in the 200-yard medley relay. Finally, Yan secured the highest individual ranking, finishing sixth in the 50-yard butterfly with a time of 23.08. On the diving board, Brandon Pearson ’18 earned two NCAA “B” cuts. His fourth-place finish on the 1-meter board and fifth-place finish on the 3-meter board established him as one of the strongest divers in the conference.
“We all felt proud representing Wesleyan this weekend,” Tang said. “We all understood one another’s goals and embodied each other’s aspirations into our own. I guess at the end of the day, success as a team was also success individually for us all.”
The Cardinals have much to look forward to in upcoming seasons. Despite losing an incredible class of swimmers this spring, the underclassmen on the team are a testament to its bright future. Their successes this weekend prove that the team is heading in a positive direction and soon will be a serious force to be reckoned with in NESCAC.