“With three swimmers abroad, and another three out of the pool for various other reasons, we went into this meet slightly nervous about what this team’s capabilities were in the water,” said Gach. The Jeffs proved their nerves wrong and more than exceeded their own modest expectations as they swam away with a 154-119 win. While the Jeffs did not sweep the top three spots in any event, as they have so often in the past two seasons, a collection of strong individual performances gave them their significant edge over the Cardinals.
“The men’s team responded tremendously [to the absence of some team members] with outstanding swims from several people,” said Gach. When the team is able to fill in its gaps with the talented swimmers who were not present at this first meet, it will be easy to see that Amherst will again be a strong contender on the national level.
The big performer of the meet was junior Bryan Woo, who has been one of Amherst’s most consistent performers the past two seasons. Woo won the 50- and 100-yard butterfly events in addition to the 50-yard freestyle.
Also coming up with big wins were co-captain Chuck Clinton ’05, Jordan Bowling ’05 and Ethan Treat ’07, each of whom had two victories to earn 18 points apiece for Amherst. “Chuck [Clinton] won great races in the 200[-yard] freestyle and 100[-yard] freestyle,” said Gach. Bowling took both the 1- and 3-meter diving events with ease, followed by Connor Boyd ’08, who placed second in both.
Treat won the 400-yard individual medley and the 100-yard backstroke, proving that a sophomore slump is not in store this season. Fellow sophomore standout John Ancona also had two good races, winning the 50-yard breaststroke and placing second in the 100-yard breaststroke. Youth was the theme of this pair of events, as Ancona out-touched first-year Derek Prill in the 50, and Prill returned the favor in the 100.
Prill and Boyd were the stars for the class of 2008, though classmate Adam Bookman dove well and fellow rookie Andrew Vasta placed third in two events and fifth in another. Two rookies were absent due to injury, but the outlook is positive already for this new crop of swimmers.
The seniors were not to be outdone by their younger counterparts, however. In addition to Clinton’s two wins, seniors Elan Ghazal, Nick Federico and Gach all earned important points for Amherst. The trio combined for one second-place finish, five third-place finishes and a fourth-place finish.
The Jeffs return to the pool this weekend at the Natatorium of the Middlebury College Panthers. Middlebury will prove a tougher opponent than Wesleyan, as the Panthers took fourth at NESCACs last season (Amherst placed second). The Jeffs have confidence after this first meet, however. “I feel pretty good about the way we swam in the first meet, and I am confident that the men will get it done again this weekend,” said Gach.