Men's Swimmers Headed To NESCAC's

February 24, 2007

The Middlebury men's swimming and diving squads will take part in the 2007 NESCAC Men's Swimming and Diving Championship this weekend. The three-day event is hosted Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. The three-day event kicks off on Friday, Feb. 23 at the Leroy Greason Pool and runs through Sunday, Feb. 25.

The Ephs set a championship record in team points for the second year in a row in 2006, accumulating an impressive 2,068 and finishing over 500 points in front of second-place Tufts (1,522) thanks to the efforts of Will Cunningham and a sweep in all five relay events. This year, however, Williams will be without the services of Cunningham, the four-time Swimmer of the Meet, and a good portion of its relay teams from last February because of graduation. Amherst, Connecticut College, Middlebury and Tufts will be among the many teams looking to break Williams' two-year hold on the relay events in the quest for this year's NESCAC title.

The short distance freestyle events will be up for grabs this weekend as well, as last year's winners in both the 50 and 100-yard Freestyle graduated in the spring. Tufts senior Michael Kinsella (Hinsdale, Ill.) is the only individual from the top four of the 50 to return this year. He will be challenged in the event by senior Nick Gallucci (Akron, Ohio) of Williams, who finished eighth a year ago, and by a pair of rookies, Connecticut College freshman Grant Moryan (Westfield, N.J.) and Middlebury first year Schuyler Beeman (Guilford, Conn.). Moryan will also look to capture the 100-yard Freestyle title, as he currently holds the best time in the event in the conference this winter. The 200 and 500-yard Freestyle events may be a bit more predictable than the 50 and 100. Williams senior Steve Spinelli (Longmeadow, Mass.) returns to defend his titles in both the 200 and 500 against competition that includes fellow Eph junior Chris Millen ( Richboro, Pa.) and Tufts senior Gregory Bettencourt (West Granby, Conn.). Bettencourt placed third in the 200 and second in the 500 a year ago.

The last chapter will be written this weekend about the battles between Spinelli and Wesleyan senior Ben Byers (Seattle, Wash.) in the distance freestyle events. The two swimmers have competed against one another in at least one freestyle event over the past four years, with Spinelli taking the 1,650-yard Freestyle race over Byers in 2006 by one second. Byers has finished second or better in the 1,650 the last three years with a title in 2005, and is also the two-time defending champion in the 1,000-yard Freestyle.

In the backstroke, Middlebury sophomore Zach Woods (Monroe, N.Y.) will look to earn his first NESCAC title this weekend in Brunswick. Woods currently holds the best time in the league in the 100 and 200-yard Backstroke, and he will compete against returning veterans senior Jabez Dewey (Worcester, Mass.) of Colby, Hamilton junior Todd Johnson (Kingston, Jamaica), and Williams senior Dave McManic (Lilburn, Ga.). Johnson finished in the top five in each of the three backstroke events, his best showing coming in the 100 (3rd), while Dewey's best finish during last year's meet came in the 50 (2nd).

Amherst senior John Ancona (Lake Forest, Ill.) will defend his crown in the 50 and 100-yard Breaststroke against a field that includes the Middlebury tandem of senior Tim Lux (Sandy Hook, Conn.) and junior Peter Bell (Deerfield, Mass.). Lux captured the 50-yard title in 2005 while Bell placed second. Look for these three swimmers to also challenge junior Henry Felker (St. Louis, Mo.) and sophomore Tyler Bonewell (Burnsville, Minn.) of Williams in the 200-yard Breaststroke. Felker edged Ancona in the 200 last winter by just over three-tenths of a second.

In diving, Amherst junior Connor Boyd (Northridge, Calif.) will challenge the field in search of their first diving title, as he finished third in both the 1 and 3-Meter Dives last year and was a runner-up in the 3-Meter as a rookie in 2005.

Competition will get underway each day with preliminary heats at 10:00 a.m. Finals will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, 5:50 p.m. Saturday, and 5:30 p.m. start on Sunday. Tickets are $4 per session or $20 for a weekend pass for adults and $2 per session or $10 for the weekend for children and students. Updated schedules and championship results can be found at http://www.pjmm.net/results/nescacm07/final-results.html.