While the snow was dissipating in every nook and cranny around the University, the men’s swim and dive team was preoccupied competing in Williamstown, Mass., home to a dominant Ephs swimming program. The Cardinals took part in the annual NESCAC Championships with events that commenced on Friday and ended Sunday night. The three-day competition culminated with a repeat eighth-place finish for Wes. With a final score of 480, the swimmers and divers surpassed Hamilton, Trinity, and Colby, while the daunting Williams crew came out on top with its 14th straight NESCAC title. Wesleyan looked to finish at least eighth or higher, and achieved that this past weekend amongst a competitive group of conference opponents.
“Even though one of our best swimmers was out with the flu, there were so many positive things that outnumbered the bad,” said captain Larry Ma ’16. “We had incredible races and times, but what made this NESCACs so great was the collective focus and energy. This is a team full of leaders, not just one or two, and these individuals lift us up. I think the team will be rock solid moving forward on their shoulders, and that’s one of the biggest compliments I can give to any team.”
Many Cardinal swimmers achieved their fastest times of the season in the championship meet at Samuelson-Muir Pool. The first race on the docket was the 200-yard freestyle relay, where Ali Pourmaleki ’18, Alexander Kapphahn ’19, Noah Hamlish ’16, and Max Wimer ’19 finished 11th overall with a time of 1:27.19. The outcome was a marked success, especially considering Pourmaleki was the only swimmer returning to the event from last years’ championships. The Cardinals’ first record of the evening was broken when Kapphahn won the pre-consolation final in the 50-yard backstroke with a time of 24.27.
Captain Jacques Bazile ’16 swam the 50-yard breaststroke with a season-best time of 27.22, placing 17th in a cutthroat field of foes. In the prelims of the 50-yard butterfly, Wimer hit the wall at 24.44, his fastest recorded time. Peter Patapis ’18 swam the 500-yard freestyle, improving on his time to reach 4:45.65.
Other highlights of the day included the diving performances. Brandon Pearson ’18 finished third with a score of 501.75 in the one-meter competition, giving him the school record in the event. The sophomore was only 10 points behind the first-place finisher in a close matchup between fellow competitors from Amherst and Tufts. Teammates Ethan Chupp ’18 and Nick Cimino ’19 also placed ninth and eleventh with scores of 377.35 and 317.20, respectively.
Spencer Tang ’18, Bazile, Pourmaleki, and Kapphahn competed in the 400-yard medley relay on Friday and broke Wesleyan’s third school record of the night. The Cardinals swam to a 10th-place finish in a time of 3:30.13. Karl Ortegon ’18 also had a personal best in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:05.50, dropping time from NESCACs in 2015.
Saturday saw notable events and times as well. The 200-yard medley relay kicked things off with a team comprised of Kapphahn, Bazile, Tang, and Pourmaleki. This combination came in ninth with a finals time of 1:34.88, just .84 off of the school record. Kapphahn broke the 50-yard backstroke record again with his split of 23.88 in the relay.
The 100-yard butterfly proved another record-breaking performance for Pourmaleki, who came in seventh place at 50.28. The 800-yard freestyle relay had a final time of 7:12.87, and consisted of Patapis, Max Distler ’18, Wimer, and Robert Webster ’18. Pourmaleki, and Patapis had excellent times in the 1000-yard freestyle, clocking in at 9:45.90 and 9:51.49, respectively. Additionally, Zach Carfi ’17 and Distler swam the 400-yard individual medley with times of 4:22.43 and 4:19.40, respectively.
On Sunday, the divers continued to perform well in the championship meet. In the three-meter diving competition, Pearson placed third again with a score of 482.15, squaring off with fierce divers Matt Rohrer of Tufts, who finished first, and Asher Lichtig of Amherst, who came in second. Chupp also had a 10th place finish with a score of 334.90. The 400-yard freestyle relay team of Pourmaleki, Kapphahn, Webster, and Hamlish finished with a time of 3:09.80, just .80 seconds off of the current school record.
Pourmaleki captured his third school record of the meet in the 200-yard butterfly, taking third place in a time of 1:50.55. This time puts the sophomore at 25th in the nation among all Division III swimmers, and qualifies him for the NCAA “B” Consideration Standard. Distler came out of Sunday with another season best time of 1:58.38 in the 200-yard butterfly. The last day definitely saw others shine in their own ways. Jack Gorman ’19 showed promise with his 1:02.48 in the 100-yard breaststroke, recording a personal best time. Wimer also delivered with a personal best in the 100-yard butterfly, finishing in 54.23.
Carfi and Bazile competed in the 200-yard breaststroke and accomplished their fastest times at 2:19.79 and 2:22.76, respectively. Ma finished his career with several events such as the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 24.33, a personal best, and a season best in the 50-yard butterfly with a time of 26.40. The senior also recorded a season best time in the 100-yard butterfly preliminaries, finishing in 58.38.
While not dominating the NESCACs, the Redbirds definitely showed promise in a wide variety of events. With extra experience for newcomers Kapphahn and Wimer, in addition to a strong squad of established swimmers and divers, the Cardinals look to maintain eighth and hopefully move up in the coming years at the NESCAC Championships. With the upward trend in many performances over the weekend, Wesleyan is eager to see what next year has in store for the swim and dive program.