Men's swimming ends regular season on a hard-fought loss

The Jeffs began the meet with a strong first place finish in the 200-yard medley relay, led by the team of seniors Elan Ghazal and co-captain Chuck Clinton, junior Bryan Woo and sophomore John Ancona. Junior Adam Lewkowitz followed with a solid second-place finish in the 1000-yard freestyle, closely trailed by senior co-captain Dan Gach in fourth. Lewkowitz also finished fourth in a tight 500-yard freestyle race, where sophomore Ethan Treat led the Jeffs with a second-place finish. Treat also dominated in the 200-yard individual medley where he took the victory, followed by first-year Brendan Horton in second.

In the last collegiate dual meet of his career, Clinton’s valiant effort in the short-distance freestyle events earned him a third-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle, followed by a second-place finish in the 100-yard event.

Clinton’s efforts were matched by those of Woo, who took second in a tough 50-yard freestyle race. Woo also solidly won the 100-yard butterfly, with senior Nick Federico in a close third.

The growing force of sophomore Adam Kaplan closely followed the upperclassmen with fourth-place finishes in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle. Ancona swept the competition in the 100-yard breaststroke, where he was closely followed by first-years Derek Prill and Horton in second and fourth, respectively.

With Amherst’s top backstroker junior Rick Estacio absent, first-year Andrew Vasta stepped up to the challenge and blew away his competition for a first-place finish in the 100-yard event. Ghazal came in close behind Vasta to take second.

On the diving boards, Amherst fought hard against Springfield’s impressive competition. Senior Jordan Bowling returned from absences in the last few meets. The Pride’s strength proved to be too much for the Jeffs on the three-meter event. First-year Connor Boyd earned third-place, while Bowling trailed him in fourth. In the one-meter event the Jeffs’ diving showed little improvement: Bowling landed an honorable second-place finish, while Boyd took fourth.

In the final event of the dual meet season, Amherst swam a hard race. Kaplan, Treat, Federico and senior Colin Porter led the Jeffs with a second-place finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay. They were followed by a second squad of Jeffs who took fourth-place, thus ending the meet in an unfortunate 129-114 loss for the Jeffs.

“This meet came as a bit of a surprise and disappointment for the team,” admitted Gach.

“More than anything, I think we looked really beat down from hard training, which should actually bode well as we start to rest for NESCACs,” Clinton continued. Clinton said the men must now turn their focus toward the future.

The Jeffs are not deterred as they enter post-season competition, and the senior class, topping personal bests in each swim, is sure to end on a high note as the season wraps up. “Many people swam well [against Springfield], and I think it is important to take the good aspects of the meet heading into the Championships,” said Gach.

The Jeffs will continue to train over the next few weeks until they take on all NESCAC competitors at the conference championship meet Feb. 25-27 at Wesleyan University. “Obviously we would have liked to have finished with a better record, but NESCACs are what really matters,” said Clinton.

“Coming off back-to-back undefeated seasons places extremely high expectations on a team,” added Gach. “With the early loss to Middlebury College, we just had to regroup and get back our men from abroad. After that, I think this team showed what it is capable of and I’m looking forward to watching this team swim fast at NESCACs.”