January 10, 2006

Carlson, men’s swimming can’t overcome shallowness of diving squad

For the second year in a row, men’s swimming and diving opened the season on a scorched-earth run in dual meet action. Unfortunately, for the second year in a row the team couldn’t ride the wave all the way to the UAAs.

In their first meet after the break, the Maroons (5–1–1) fell short in foreign waters, losing 160–132 at Olivet (5–0). First-year Shane Carlson was the top scorer for Chicago, hitting the wall first in the 200- (1:46.20) and 500-yard (4:44.05) freestyle events. The 400-yard freestyle relay squad, composed of fourth-year Dan Timke, third-year James Viccaro, and second-years Andrew Kent and Hiro Hayashi, came in at 3:16.89 to take their event.

Other individual champions for Chicago included Viccaro, who left the competition in his wake with a 22.09-second mark in the 50-yard freestyle; Hayashi, who secured a victory with a 49.21-second performance in the 100-yard freestyle; and first-year Alex Stabell, who grabbed top honors in the 100-yard butterfly with a 53.37 showing.

The team entered the meet already down by a substantial margin. The Maroons only brought one diver to Olivet, whereas the Comets were able to enter six in diving events, earning them easy points.

“We beat them in the water in terms of racing. Diving made the difference,” Viccaro said. “We had a lot of illness to deal with after break, so we weren’t quite at top level. A lot of people still had really good days.”

“We went in knowing it was going to be a tough meet, that we would be down 28 points because of the divers,” third-year Pat Seastedt said. “We know the sort of competition that Olivet brings. It’s a minor setback. We’ll see them again this weekend, and we’ll be working extra hard to beat them.”

It was the first event win of the season for both Hayashi and Stabell. Viccaro had previously garnered victories in the 50-yard freestyle in a 136–93 win over Grinnell November 19 and in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events in a 120–83 handling of Illinois Wesleyan November 5.

For Carlson, it was just the latest evidence that he might inherit the mantle of graduated All-American Northe Saunders, bringing home a long line of victories including the 1,000-yard free against Grinnell, the 500- and 1,650-yard freestyle at the Maroon Invitational November 11 and 12, the 1,000-yard free to help the team to a 2–0–1 record at the Monmouth Triangular October 29, and even more in the season opening triumph over Illinois Tech on October 22.

“He’s been a great athlete for the team from the very first meet,” Viccaro said. “It’s great to see a young guy contribute at that level from the beginning.”

“He’s been a great all-around guy for us since he got here. He’s extremely valuable to this team,” Seastedt said.

The team had not competed since Grinnell, but they’ve been far from idle. Chicago swimmers averaged seven miles a day in practice over their 11-day training trip to San Diego. The workouts allowed the team to continue training as a group through most of break, before heading home to work out with their club teams through New Year’s.

Coming off of defeat on the road, weary swimmers do not expect a chance to rest, as they continue moving towards peak fitness in advance of the league meet, held in Atlanta February 9–11, and the Midwest Invitational, which they will play host to on February 17 and 18.

“This is the point in our season where we train the hardest,” Seastedt said. “We’re building our endurance and strength for conference championships.”

Check out this Friday’s Maroon for a preview of the Chicago Invite and a review of the season thus far, starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Myers–McLoraine Pool.