Azares sets school record, but no qualifiers for men’s swimming at last-chance invite

By Tim Murphy

In their last chance to qualify for nationals, men’s swimming received a pair of stellar performances that made waves at an otherwise placid competition, but failed to meet any NCAA standards.

One week after the Maroons set four school records en route to a sixth-place at the UAA championships, Chicago recorded one final history-making performance as they swam to a fourth-place finish at the Midwestern Invitational at Myers-McLoraine Pool. The event did not produce any national qualifying times, with most teams still recovering from their conference championships,

“It was an anomaly of a final meet,” head coach George Villareal said. “That type of thing [no qualifiers] is usually attributed to the laid-back atmosphere of the meet. Most schools didn’t bring their full squads.”

Although no Maroons qualified for nationals, the meet was not without its share of outstanding performances. Second-year Jason Azares set a school record in the 200-yard butterfly, taking first in 1:57.60.

“We were really pleased with him,” Villareal said. “It took him a while to get back from his injury and he did.”

Second-year Zach Ergish did his best Azares impersonation in the 500-yard freestyle, swimming the eighth-fastest time in school history. Ergish finished in second place in the event with a time of 4:52.11. Third-year Ethan Samuels, third-year Alon Neidich, and first-year Declan Frye all submitted personal bests in their individual events after being left at home for the league meet.

The coaching staff had hoped to use this meet to help tailor workouts for individual swimmers. Watching the team perform in competitive settings helps the coaches determine the success of each individual’s tapering. The team’s performances over the weekend will lead to a number of adjustments in how training is conducted over the course of the season.

“A lot of people we wanted to see get another swim didn’t perform so well,” Villareal said. “It gives us a different way to assess training. It’s something we’ll take into account next year.”

With season over for most of the team, the Maroons will now have time to reflect on all that they in accomplished in their record-breaking season. Chicago finished the dual-meet season with a record of 5–4–1, and broke six team and individual records.

First-year Shane Carlson, who set four new school marks this season, is the team’s lone provisional national qualifier. He will have to wait and see if his mile time will hold up and earn him a trip to the national championships March 16–18 in Minneapolis.