Men’s Swimming Drops Meet Decided in Final Race
ANNAPOLIS, Md. –– Columbia won the meet-closing 400 freestyle relay by six-hundredths of a second to edge the Navy men’s swimming and diving team, 151-149, Friday afternoon at Lejeune Hall in Annapolis. The contest was the last dual meet of the season for the Mids (9-3), while the Lions (7-2) will end their regular season next week against Dartmouth.
The outcome in two of Navy’s three losses this season has not been determined until the final event of the meet. The Mids dropped 151.5-148.5 decision to Princeton when the Tigers placed second and third in the 400 free relay. Navy needed to win the event and also finish in one of the other two scoring places to win the overall meet.
“We’re a couple of tenths of a second away from being 11-1 instead of 9-3,” said Navy men’s swimming head coach Bill Roberts. “We can’t undo what has happened. Hopefully we will learn from these two meets and get a lot of positives out of them. It stings, there is not doubt about it, but hopefully we can channel it forward for February and March and our championship meets.”
The teams traded the lead three times in the first half of the meet, which ended with Columbia holding an 82-68 advantage. Navy regained a 104-103 lead after event 11, the 200 breaststroke, and built advantages of 116-110, 125-120 and 138-126 through the 14th of 16 events. Columbia would win and score two additional places in the 200 individual medley to close to within 143-140 with just the 400 free relay remaining on the docket.
The lead jockeyed back and forth in the relay race, with Columbia in front by one quarter of a second at the halfway point in the race. Navy took a slight lead after a great third leg by Zach Piedt (Jr., Fort Mill, S.C.), which left Navy’s Connor Davis (Sr., Shelton, Conn.) and Columbia’s Albert Gwo battling it out for the victory. The Navy advantage winnowed through 300 yards, then the two were neck-and-neck with each other as they approached the final wall. In the end, Gwo edged Piedt to give Columbia a 3:00.57-3:00.63 victory.
“We knew it would be a close meet,” said Roberts. “If one team got ahead, we knew it wasn’t going to last. I told the guys, ‘just do what it takes to race well, dive well, score points.’ We were down at the first break and up at the second and our message during both was exactly the same.”
Navy totaled seven event wins on the day, with Ryan Waters (Fr., Basking Ridge, N.J.) earning victories in both the 1000 free and 500 free. He posted a time of 9:21.60 to win the longer race by 1.49 seconds, then recorded a clocking of 4:30.24 to take the shorter event by just over eight-tenths of a second.
The five additional Navy wins were tallied by five different Mids. James Wilson (So., Ephrata, Pa.) won the 100 back by 15-hundredths of a second with his effort of 49.68, Micah Oh (Fr., Kent, Ohio) touched the wall first by just one-hundredth of a second in the 200 fly with his effort of 1:51.07, Joseph Jaime (Sr., San Antonio, Texas) earned the victory in the 100 free by eight-tenths of a second with his time of 45.65 and Brayden Lauffer (Jr., Apex, N.C.) recorded a time of 2:01.50 to win the 200 breast by four-tenths of a second. Completing the list of Navy’s winners was Bradley Buchter (So., Hickory, N.C.), who totaled 372.68 points to win the one-meter diving board by 25 points.
“Ryan was excellent in the 1000 free,” said Roberts. “Some of our spark came from the guys who finished third, fourth and fifth in some of the races. Those were critical points. Little things add up.”
“It was a tough meet today against one of the better teams in the East,” said Navy diving head coach Rich MacDonald. “We did some good things and we did some things we need to work on over the next couple of weeks heading into championships. It’s always good to have these challenges at the end of the season to show us what we really need to focus on.”
Both Navy teams will play host to the Navy Invite –– a non-scoring meet –– Saturday at noon, then each will turn their respective sights solely on the Feb. 14-17 Patriot League Championship in Lejeune Hall.