As the only member of the men’s swimming team to qualify for the NCAA swimming and diving championships, junior Stefano Caprara put in a couple of strong performances this past weekend.
On the second and third days of competition, Caprara swam the 100- and 200-yard backstroke events, taking 29th place in both.
During the three-day event, swimmers representing 141 schools competed at the University of Minnesota. All athletes qualified by having the top swimming times in the country in their respective events. Auburn took home the team trophy by earning 491 points. Stanford and Arizona rounded out the top three with 414 and 388 points, respectively.
“[The championships] were a great experience for all of us,” said head coach Joe Lucia. “It was an environment where there were a lot of quality people [competing], and it’s a great learning experience.”
On the second day of competition, Caprara swam a preliminary time of 49.37, but this was not good enough to place him among the top 16 swimmers who would go onto compete in the final and consolation final events. Caprara took 29th in a field of 33 swimmers overall.
In the finals, Northwestern’s Matt Grevers and Florida’s Ryan Lochte battled to a close finish, with Grevers coming in three-hundredths of a second before Lochte in 45.62.
“Stefano did a really good job,” Lucia said. “In the 100, he was a little off. I think he was excited and it was a bit overwhelming. He seemed relaxed, but maybe he was trying too hard.”
Caprara qualified for the 100-yard backstroke by swimming the event in 48.48 at the EISL championships, held earlier this month. After breaking his previous school record (48.86), Caprara went into the NCAA competition with the 27th best time.
He returned to the water on Saturday to swim the 200-yard backstroke.
As one of three swimmers representing the Ivy League in the event, Caprara took another 29th place finish in 1:46.43. This time was just over his qualifying time of 1:46.40, which he swam at the EISL championships.
Caprara entered his final race as the 36th qualifier in the tournament field.
“Stefano swam a great 200,” Lucia said. “It was a great comeback, and he handled it well.”
Lochte took home another medal, winning the event in 1:38.37 and bettering his preliminary time by over two seconds. He also set new NCAA and pool records in the process. Auburn’s Doug Van Wie came in three seconds later to take silver.
Despite not qualifying for the final events this year, Caprara has proven to be a very tough competitor. He will now start looking towards his final season at Cornell.
Lucia has also begun setting goals for next year’s team.
“From a team standpoint, we have very good potential for next year,” Lucia said.
“We have a good returning group, and I’m very excited. The team is motivated, and hopefully we’ll have more than one guy at the championships next year.”
Archived article by Kristina Kovach
Sun Staff Writer