HADLEY, Mass. – Williams College, winner of the last ten NESCAC titles, will be in pursuit of its 11th conference crown as the 2013 NESCAC Men’s Swimming & Diving Championships take place this weekend. The three-day meet begins on Friday, February 22 with preliminary heats in the morning and championship races in the evening at the Wesleyan University Natatorium in Middletown, Conn.
Williams won the 2012 Championship with 2,011 points. It was only the second time in championship history that the Ephs cracked 2,000 points. Amherst finished as runner-up for the second consecutive year with 1,959 points. Tufts took third place with 1,030 points.
The Ephs return all four men who won six individual events and three relays a year ago, including two-time Swimmer of the Meet Paul Dyrkacz. The senior will look to defend his titles in the 200-yard breaststroke and 200 and 400-yard individual medley. With a NESCAC and Samuelson-Muir Pool record in the 200-yard breaststroke a year ago, Dyrkacz’s best competition will come from a pair of Ephs in sophomore Timothy Lattimer and first year Knox Young. Williams also returns defending champion Thad Ricotta. The sophomore took the 200-yard butterfly a year ago and will face competition from Tufts first year Anthony Debenedetto and Amherst junior Tyler Bulakul. Amherst first year Jeff Anderson could upset both Dyrkacz and Ricotta’s repeat attempts.
With Ryan Lichtenfels of Amherst graduated, the 500 and 1,650-yard freestyle will be up for grabs. In the 500-yard freestyle, Williams senior Tom Vieth and Debenedetto could easily take the title. Amherst sophomore Sam Cagenello will attempt to keep the 1,650 title with the Jeffs. Williams sophomore Christian Gronbeck won the 1,000-yard freestyle last year and will look to defend his title, along with challenging the field in the 500 and 1,650 events. Teammate John Armstrong will challenge Gronbeck, with Amherst sophomore Ben Grimes also being competitive in the 1,000-yard freestyle.
Tim Walsh from Connecticut College won the Four-Year High Point Swimmer Award a year ago and his departure to graduation means there will be a new winner in the backstroke events for the first time since 2010. Connecticut College sophomore Sean Paquette enters the championship with the league’s top time in the 50-yard backstroke, with Amherst’s Bulakul and sophomore Conor Deveney also in contention. Bulakel, Amherst first year Rishi Kowalski, and Tufts first year Michael Winget can also win the 100-yard backstroke. Williams sophomore Daniel Druckman has the top time in the 200 heading into the championship, while teammate David Taylor and Amherst sophomore Michael Rochford can pick up points for their squads.
The 50 and 100-yard freestyle events will be up for grabs with Owen Rood from Tufts graduated. Connecticut College junior Sam Gill and first year Drew Andre can contend for the 50-yard freestyle, while Williams senior Daeus Jorento and Amherst first year Sam Stewart will also be competitive. Amherst sophomore Connor Sholtis has the best time in the league in the 100-yard freestyle headed into the championship, but Gill and Vieth are also in contention for the title. Vieth took the 200-yard freestyle a year ago and will attempt to repeat, with competition coming from Eph first year Alex McCarter and Debenedetto.
In pursuit of backstroke and freestyle wins, Gill will also defend his 100-yard butterfly title. Stewart currently sits above Gill in the league’s top times, while Bulakul and Ricotta will also be challengers. Gill will also compete for the 50-yard butterfly title, won last year by Mac Routh from Bowdoin. Routh’s graduation means Gill, Stewart, and Middlebury junior Ian MacKay will contend for the 50-yard butterfly win.
Tufts junior Johann Schmidt will look to earn his third straight Diver of the Meet honor, after sweeping the 1-meter and 3-meter competitions for the second year in a row. A trio from Amherst in first year Asher Lichtig, junior Colin White, and sophomore Mark Idleman along with Williams sophomore Rohan Bhatt will challenge Schmidt, who broke pool records in both events last year.
There will be a new winner in the 50 and 100-yard breaststroke events with Amherst’s Ben McBratney graduated. Williams first years Jake Tamposi and Jon Yin will contend for the 2013 title. In the 50-yard breaststroke, a pair of rookies enter the championship with the top times in the league, in Amherst’s Tom Zhang and Tamposi. Tufts junior Drew Berman and Bates sophomore Andrew Briggs will also be competitive.
Williams took three relays a year ago, winning the 200 and 800-yard freestyle, along with the 400 medley relay. Entering the championship meet, the Ephs have the top time in the 200-yard freestyle, while Amherst claims the top times in the 800-yard freestyle and 400-yard medley. The Jeffs will attempt to defend their 400-yard freestyle relay, though they enter the championship with the league’s best marks in the 800-yard freestyle and 400-yard medley.
Competition will get underway each day with preliminary heats at 10:00 a.m. Finals will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, 5:50 p.m. Saturday and 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $7 per session for adults and $3 per session for children and students. Doors will open one hour prior to the heats and finals.
Results from the NESCAC Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships will be available on throughout the weekend at www.nescac.com.