Jumbos cap successful season with third-place finish at NESCACs

Junior James McElduff swims at a practice on Jan 16, 2017. (Courtesy David DeCortin)

A hectic weekend saw plenty of action from the 11 participating teams at the men’s swimming and diving NESCAC Championships at Wesleyan. In their last meet before the NCAA Championships, the Jumbos placed third in the conference with 1,391 points. Just 11 points ahead of Tufts was Amherst, which came in second with 1,402 points. The perennial NESCAC champion, Williams, won the championship for the 15th straight season. The Ephs put together a dominant performance as they totaled 1,671 points, 269 ahead of the runners up.

Despite not finishing atop the NESCAC, Tufts tallied impressive performances and first-place finishes across the board. Tufts and Amherst were neck-and-neck all day, and that proximity motivated the team.

“It was a lot closer than we all thought it was going to be, and that just led to us swimming harder and swimming faster,” junior James McElduff said. “I think all the guys are proud of what we accomplished, so we’re holding our heads high.”

McElduff was a standout swimmer for the Jumbos in the championship meet. He won the 200-yard butterfly, earned runner-up honors in the 200-yard individual medley and was part of three top-three finishes by Tufts relay teams.

Despite his outstanding individual success, McElduff was quick to give credit to his teammates.

“It’s all due to the hard work of our team,” he said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the guys cheering me on. The support that we show each other is something we take a lot of pride in. All 23 of those guys put their hearts and souls into this weekend and raced their hearts out.”

Senior tri-captain Matt Rohrer threw a great amount of praise at McElduff as well as many of the other Jumbos.

“James McElduff stepped up and crushed it this weekend,” Rohrer said. “He was monumental to our success and contributed to our team points and our confidence. We were elated to see all of our guys swim so well.”

Rohrer is Tufts’ top diver, and he showed his prowess on the board this weekend. He won both diving events, taking first place in the three-meter and the one-meter dives in his final NESCAC Championship.

“For the last three years, I had won one board and had been beaten on the other,” Rohrer said. “I knew this would be my last chance to get both titles in one meet, and I wanted it bad. I didn’t want to let anything stand in the way of that, so I gave it my all. I did everything I could, and it feels amazing.”

Along with McElduff and Rohrer, several other swimmers contributed to the Jumbos’ total. Sophomore Kingsley Bowen came in second in the 200-yard backstroke, earning 28 points for his team and recording a program-best time of 1:46.63. Bowen also broke his own record in the 50-yard backstroke during a relay on the second day of the tournament. 

Tufts’ next meet is the NCAA Zone Diving Qualifier, where Rohrer and junior Aaron Idelson will be representing the Jumbos.

Four-year standout Rohrer admitted that he gets a bit nervous about qualifying meets of this magnitude.

“I’m definitely pretty nervous,” Rohrer said. “This year might be one of the toughest years at the regional meet, just because there’s so many good divers in our region. In the last two years, I’ve qualified on the first day. It’s nice to go into the second day of a meet knowing your season isn’t resting on your performance, so I’d love to qualify on the first day again this year.”

The NCAA Zone Diving Qualifier will take place on Friday and Saturday.