Jumbos shine in season’s lone home meet

Tufts junior Russell Weeks swims breaststroke against Wheaton College on Saturday, Jan. 23. Julia Press / The Tufts Daily

Tufts secured a definitive victory over Wheaton College in its only home meet of the season Saturday afternoon. The meet, which also featured the team’s annual Seniors Day, ended in success; the team scored the best marks in 19 of the 20 events, racking up 198 points to Wheaton’s 136. As the team customarily does in its annual Wheaton meet, Tufts swam the last five events as exhibitions, ceding all points while still competing.

The dual-meet began with a solid win in the 200 medley relay for the Jumbo A-team, comprised of first-year Kingsley Bowen, sophomores Morgan Ciliv and Michael Brienza, as well as senior tri-captain Michael Winget. The quartet won the event by a comfortable five seconds, with the Tufts relay B-team coming in second. Winget set a new record with his 50 backstroke section of the relay, recording a 24.13 second lap and beating his previous best in the 50 back by nearly half a second.

“At this point in the season, I feel confident about my strokes and endurance, so mostly I’m just working on the minute things in my stroke,” said Winget.

Winget recorded two individual wins in the the 100 backstroke and in the 50 backstroke, while posting the best time in the 100 IM as well, though the latter was an exhibition. Especially impressive was Winget win in the 100 backstroke event, in which he beat Wheaton first-year Jacob Cost by three full seconds.

“There was some good leadership [from Winget] the whole season, along with the other seniors,” head coach Adam Hoyt said. “They certainly stepped up and pulled it together today.”

The day saw several new records set, a good sign as the Jumbos put up their personal bests in the lead-up to the NESCAC championships in late February. Tufts sophomore Zachary Wallace recorded a Hamilton pool record of 4:13.53 in the 400-yard individual medley.

“It’s always impressive when you can break a pool record at the end of the meet because most people are pretty tired,” said Hoyt.

Ciliv had two individual victories in the 50-yard and 100-yard breaststroke, winning the latter by a comfortable margin of four seconds. Although the 50-yard was a much closer race, Ciliv managed to perform under pressure, beating out Wheaton sophomore Jonathan Dunnett by three-tenths of a second.

First-year Brandon Jinn impressed in the 1000-yard freestyle. He started the long race steadily but by the 10th lap was increasing his lead by a body length each turn. By the 30th lap, Jinn had a 15-second lead, and by the 35th lap had begun to lap his opponents. Jinn recorded a final time of 9:59.72, finishing a full 25 seconds ahead of Tufts sophomore James McElduff who came in second.

Continuing the trend of first-years impressing in the pool, Bowen also had a successful day. In addition to being part of the team that won the 200 medley relay, he also set his season-best in the 100 fly with a time of 51.71. Despite a nagging rotator cuff injury, Bowen still managed to make a strong point contribution for the Jumbos.

“Typically we swim pretty well against Wheaton,” Hoyt said. “They always race us hard and keep the energy level up. Our one home meet of the year is pretty special, and I think it brought out the best in our swimmers.”

Over winter break, Bowen received recognition as the NESCAC Swimmer of the Week for the week of Jan. 18. Bowen is the third Tufts recipient of the award this season, following Winget and Jinn. The award came after the first-year’s impressive performances at MIT and Boston College in December and early January, respectively. Bowen came away with a combined two wins, three second place-finishes and one individual third, while also being part of a pair of relay teams that placed second and third. At the Boston College dual-meet, also held over winter break, Bowen broke a 20-year-old Tufts record in the 100-yard individual medley by over a second, setting a time that is now second fastest in the NESCAC this season.

“It was obviously an honor to win the swimmer of the week,” said Bowen. “My personal goal for NESCACs is to place top-three in all of my events and qualify for NCAAs.”

In the men’s diving competition there were no competitors from Wheaton, so sophomore Aaron Idelson and junior Matt Rohrer competed in a set of more relaxed diving events. In the one-meter and three-meter dives Rohrer scored 330.90 and 365.85 points, respectively, while Idelson scored 195.00 and 285.83 points.

“This meet was a good opportunity for us to try new dives that we’ve never really done while competing because there was very little pressure,” said Idelson. “My main goal right now is to fine-tune everything and work on consistency. Our biggest concern right now is the NCAA Regional Zone meet to qualify for nationals.”

Coach Hoyt will soon be selecting his 24-man NESCAC roster in preparation for the conference championships that begin on Feb. 19. With the smaller roster, Hoyt will be able to personalize the training for individual swimmers to tweak and improve specific aspects of his swimmers’ racing going into NESCACs.

“At this point in our season, half the team starts to rest for the championship meet at Middlebury next weekend,” senior tri-captain Harry Wood said. “They decrease their amount of daily yardage so that their muscles can start to recover.”

Tufts has been consistent in the NESCAC championships the past few years, coming in fourth behind Williams, Amherst and Conn. College each of the past 3 seasons.

This year, the Jumbos seek to better their finish, with coach Hoyt saying that he would be disappointed if the Jumbos were unable to improve their standings. Winget was also optimistic about the championships.

“We have put ourselves in a really good position for NESCACs, we have put in a lot of hard work,  and I think it will pay off,” Winget said. “I think we have a very realistic shot at competing with Conn. College and it should be a great meet for our team.”

Tufts will participate in the Middlebury Invitational-an individual competition-this weekend before beginning its final preparations for the NESCAC championships.