When you make program history, a little exuberance can be expected.
So when the Swarthmore College men’s swimming team received the championship trophy after claiming the program’s first Centennial Conference championship on Sunday night, it decided to take the trophy for a swim, plunging back into the pool along with second-year head coach Karin Colby and assistant coach Thomas Limouze.
“I'd be happy to get thrown in every year if it means we've won another championship!” says Colby, who is in her second year as head coach of both the men’s and women’s swimming programs.
The splash celebration was certainly warranted for the Garnet, as it made history by winning the program’s first Centennial Conference men's swimming title by dethroning eight-time defending champion Gettysburg by 120 points, 720-600. It’s the first conference championship for the men’s swimming program since it claimed the Middle Atlantic Conference Championship in 1989.
Along the way, members of the team achieved 10 NCAA “B” Cuts and 16 school records.
Swarthmore jumped out to a 39-point lead after Day 1, winning three events on the evening's five-event program to score 226 points. Jeff Tse ‘19 of Ellicott City, Md., won the 200 IM with a program-record time of 1:51.73, while the Garnet also won the 200 Freestyle Relay (1:22.99) and 400 Medley Relay (3:22.19).
On Day 2, the Garnet captured four of the night's seven events, to take a 112-point lead (511-399). The Swarthmore quartet of Tse, Alejandro Hernandez ‘18, a philosophy major from Leonia, N.J., Andrew Steele ‘17, a computer science major from Katy, Tex., and Chris Smith ‘19 of Lexington, Mass., set a meet record in the 200 medley relay, touching the wall in 1:31.57. Liam Fitzstevens ’17, a neuroscience major from Rochester, N..Y., became the first back-to-back 400 IM champ since 2008, winning the event with a time of 4:03.76, while Steele defended his title in the 100 fly with a clocking of 49.48.
On the final day, Fitzstevens became the fifth three-time winner of the 200 back, touching the wall in 1:49.00, as the Garnet held off the Bullets for the crown.
For Colby, the championship was the culmination of a year-long commitment from the squad.
“As a group, our men's team decided last spring that they were going to go all-in to win this meet and they did everything along the way to make that a reality," she says. "They worked incredibly hard, stayed focused, held each other accountable, trusted the process, and always believed they could win this. We had incredible senior leadership and they deserve credit for fostering a team culture that allowed our team to succeed.”
The women’s swimming team also had a standout weekend, finishing in third place while setting six school records and dozens of personal best times. First-year Clare Cushing ‘20 of Colleyville, Tex., was awarded the conference's Most Outstanding Rookie honor.
“The women had an extraordinary meet; they put up a great fight for second place and while we came up a few points short,” says Colby. “It's awesome to be able to send our seniors out with the highest team finish in the past four years and with 15 underclassmen on our 18-person championship roster, we are excited to continue climbing the conference ranks in the next few years.”