Late Rally Falls Short for Men’s Swimming & Diving
ANNAPOLIS, Md. –– A second and third-place showing in the final event of the meet secured a narrow 151.5-148.5 victory for Princeton (7-2) over the Navy (8-1) men’s swimming and diving team Saturday afternoon at Lejeune Hall in Annapolis.
“I think both teams knew going into the meet that it was going to be very close,” said Navy men’s swimming head coach Bill Roberts.
The meet couldn’t have started much better for the Mids as they placed first and second in the opening 200 medley relay before Ryan Waters (Fr., Basking Ridge, N.J.) and Luke Johnson (Fr., Charlotte, N.C.) led a 1-2-5 finish for Navy in the 1,000 free. Waters edged Johnson for the win by one second (9:23.52-9:24.50), with Johnson defeating Princeton’s third-place swimmer by 1.64 seconds. Those results gave Navy an early 33-22 lead.
“We knew Princeton was not going to back down after we won the first two events,” said Roberts.
Princeton would win the ensuing five races to take a 76-55 lead, but Navy closed to within 83-67 at the halfway point of the 16-event dual thanks to the Mids earning three of the five places in the one-meter diving event. Leading the way was Bradley Buchter (So., Hickory, N.C.), who scored 341.78 points to win the board by 32 points.
Navy quickly winnowed the margin down to 86-83 when Joseph Jaime (Sr., San Antonio, Texas), Zach Piedt (Jr., Fort Mill, S.C.) and Andy MacGregor (So., Grand Rapids, Mich.) placed first (45.06), second (45.64) and third (45.88), respectively, in the 100 freestyle. Princeton then placed first and second in the 200 backstroke to regain a 101.5-86.5 cushion, but that margin was sliced back down to four points –– 105.5-101.5 –– when Navy’s Brayden Lauffer (Jr., Apex, N.C.) won (2:03.25) and Chris Bondarowicz (Fr., Scotch Plains, N.J.) finished in second place (2:05.16) in the 200 breaststroke.
The Mids regained the lead at 113.5-112.5 after Waters won the 500 freestyle by four-tenths of a second (4:34.27) and teammate Luke Nelson (Jr., Providence, R.I.) also placed third (4:34.77) in the race.
“I was really happy with the way we responded when we went down and battled back,” said Roberts. “Ryan is a tough kid. He trains real well, partly because we have a great training group. He is the one who stands out with the win, but it really is a collective effort of that distance and middle distance group operating at a high level every single day. Ryan really is a great racer and has a great internal sense of pace and puts it on display in these meets.”
Princeton then placed first and third in the 100 fly to take a 124.5-120.5 lead, but Buchter won the three-meter event by 40 points (389.33) to make the score 133.5-130.5 in favor of the visitors with just two events left on the docket.
“I was very pleased with how the divers competed today,” said Navy diving coach Rich MacDonald. “We have a group of extremely tired divers because of how much we have been training lately. For them to step up and dive as well as they did today made me proud. We are looking forward to the upcoming final push of the season.”
The Tigers scored three swimmers –– first, third, fifth –– in the 200 individual medley to take a 145.5-137.5 lead into the 400 freestyle relay. Navy needed to win the event and also score one other team in the relay to claim the overall meet victory. The Mids would place first in the relay race, but the Tigers touched the wall in both second and third places to earn the victory.
Had Navy been able to place first and third in the relay (Princeton edged the Mids for third place by 1.8 seconds), it would have won the meet 150.5-149.5.
Today was the first meet for both teams in nearly one month and immediately followed lengthy post-holiday training sessions.
“The times were very solid,” said Roberts. “Some guys were a bit off, and that is sometimes hard to predict with the impact of winter training on each swimmer. On the whole, we had some very good swims. Some guys easily exceeded what they had done in season prior to the Army meet. I will have to look at them a little more in depth, but I think I am going to be pretty happy with them.”
Navy’s season will continue on Saturday, Jan. 13 when both Navy teams travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., to compete against both North Carolina and Penn State.