Men’s swimming extends unbeaten streak against Pioneers

By Tim Murphy

Battling illness and injury, men’s swimming trounced Grinnell to remain undefeated.

In their final meet before winter break, the host Maroons (5–0–1) received strong performances from second-years Andrew Kent and Jason Azares to beat the Pioneers (1–1–0) by a score of 136–93. The victory brought to an end a successful fall campaign that saw Chicago win two meets by more than 100 points, and tie Division I Western Illinois.

“We wanted to run the table this fall,” head coach George Villarreal said. “The meet against Western Illinois was a real surprise.”

Despite their early-season success, the Maroons remained focused on the task at hand against an inexperienced Grinnell squad. They might have been forgiven for doing so. The Pioneers did not open their season until Friday, nearly a full month after Chicago first took the plunge.

“They’ve given us a lot of good meets in the past,” Villarreal said. “They graduated a class of good athletes last year, so we didn’t know what to expect. Our team was coming off a cycle of some very hard work. Everybody was pretty tired.”

The Maroons, who do not have any divers on their current roster, spotted the Pioneers 13 points in each of the two diving events, but conceded only nine more points in contested events the rest of the meet. After clinching the victory, Chicago elected to swim many their remaining races as “exhibitions,” meaning their official times would be recorded, but they would not receive points for finishing. This allowed Grinnell to take points despite posting slower times than their Maroon counterparts.

In the 200-yard freestyle, Kent posted his best time of the season, to take first with a 1:48.33 mark. He just missed out on another first in the 100 yard freestyle, taking second in 49.55, just .30 seconds behind fourth-year Peter Brown of Grinnell.

Azares, battling nausea before his race, produced a pair of gutsy performances. In the 200-yard individual medley, he took second place with a time of 2:05.51. Led by second-year Zachary English (2:05.30) the Maroons swept the top four spots in the event. Azares was first to the wall in the 100-yard butterfly in 53.68.

“Jason is picking up right where he left off last year,” Villarreal said. “He was feeling pretty ill but he was able to hold it together.”

Rookie sensation Shane Carlson, who earned UAA Athlete of the Week after setting two school records at the Maroon Invite November 11 and 12, continued his outstanding debut season with a first-place finish in the 1,000-yard freestyle. Carlson beat the second-place finisher, Grinnell second-year Eric Thuma, by more than a minute, with a time of 10:09.7.

“Shane Carlson has been a star for us,” said Villarreal.

Grinnell expected to do well in the sprints, but Chicago managed to take first and third in the 50-yard freestyle, behind third-years James Viccaro and Bucky Banks.

“We wanted to end the fall meet schedule on a high note,” said fourth-year Ram Krishnan, who won the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 56.74. “The goal was to really step it up, finish hard to every wall, and do everything we could for a win.”

With six weeks before their next meet, the Maroons will have plenty of time to recover from their grueling early-season schedule. During winter break, the team will travel to San Diego for a week of training in outdoor pools heated by the Southern California sun.

“We want to maintain the momentum we’ve gained,” Villarreal said. “We want to make sure we are set up for the UAA championships in Emory. A lot of people have been developing well as the season has gone along.”

“We’ve been rising through the ranks the past few years, and we just want to keep on doing that.”