After hours in the pool and months of preparation, the men’s swim team ended its season by setting 12 new school records this past Saturday. The men placed fifth in their last team meet of the season, the EISL Championships, held March 3-5 in Cambridge, Mass.
The Red earned 820 points over three days of competition, easily breaking last year’s record of 675.
“Our number one accomplishment is that we beat the team record in points earned at the meet,” said head coach Joe Lucia. “We also broke 12 school records, including all five relay records, which is unprecedented.”
The men finished with a commanding lead over sixth place Columbia and only 52 points behind Yale. Harvard and Princeton battled until the end, earning 1460 and 1363.5 points, respectively, to take the top two spots.
The performance of the relay teams was key to the overall success at the competition. Every relay team finished in a top three spot. The Red outscored every other team except Harvard in overall points earned for the relay events.
During the first day of competition, the Red started out strong, posting three top-three finishes. Senior Danny Diette, junior Stefano Caprara and sophomores Dave McKechnie and Mike Smit swam to a second place finish in the 400-yard medley relay team, coming in only two-tenths of a second behind Harvard.
“The 400-yard medley relay team beat the old school record by four seconds,” Lucia said. “It was the most outstanding swim of the meet.”
Smit also added points by taking second in the 500-yard freestyle in 4:24.86. The 200-yard freestyle relay finished in third place more than a second ahead of fourth place Brown. Senior Tony Schultz and freshman Trevor Fontes finished 10th and 22nd in the 1-meter diving competition.
Entering day two, the Red sat in fourth place, just ahead of Yale, but dropped to fifth place despite a win and five top-three finishes on the day.
Although the meet was a team effort, sophomore Dave McKechnie stole the show with the first of his two top finishes. In the second day of competition, McKechnie definitively won the 100-yard breaststroke in 55.64. He went on to take gold in the 200-yard breaststroke by only one-tenth of a second in the following day’s races.
Teammate Diette earned third in the 100-yard butterfly, with senior Doug Ernst taking sixth place.
“Danny didn’t swim the fly for the first three years [of his college career] but really worked on it this year,” Lucia said. “It was an impressive swim which broke a school record.”
In a heartbreaking 200-yard freestyle race, Smit touched the wall just one-hundredth of a second behind Princeton’s Justin Chiles. Smit took second place in 1:38.02.
On the final day of competition, the Red held its fifth place spot with two more top-three finishes.
After placing second in the 100-yard backstroke the previous day, Caprara swam to a silver medal in the 200-yard backstroke. Caprara also helped teammates Smit, junior Jared Levan and freshman Brad Gorter to finish third in the 400-yard freestyle relay for the Red.
While the EISL Championship meet marks the end of full team competition, six swimmers made NCAA B time cuts and may have the chance to compete in the NCAA Championships. To qualify, the times from this past weekend will have to place in the top 22 fastest times in the nation for each event.
Overall, this final championship meet marks the end of a successful season. With four consecutive winning seasons and an 8-2 record behind them, the men proved their talent once again. All five relay teams and Caprara, Diette, Smit and McKechnie all set school records.
“As a team, we swam a really good meet,” Lucia said. “This is the first time in many years that we swam well in all six sessions. It was a very exciting and emotional meet but the guys were physically and mentally prepared to compete.”
Archived article by Kristina Kovach
Sun Staff Writer