MEDFORD – The Tufts University men's swimming and diving team will attempt to defend its NESCAC Championship this weekend at the 2019 conference meet hosted by Middlebury College.
Head coach Adam Hoyt's team won their first-ever NESCAC title last winter. The Jumbos broke Williams College's string of 15 straight conference championships. The Ephs, Amherst College and the Jumbos should again be the top challengers for the crown this season.
"The men have put together a great season thus far and have been very consistent in their training," Coach Hoyt said. "I'm excited to see what they can put together as a group this weekend. The men who competed at BU set a great tone for our championship season with some amazing swims and diving. I think we're capable of that same sort of performance this weekend if we stick together and stay focused."
The Jumbos are the top seed in four out of the five relays entering the conference championship. They also have 14 top-two seeds in individual events. New this year, they'll have the target on their backs as the reigning champs and will need to perform under that pressure.
Also new this year, the meet will start on Thursday night and run four days rather than its previous three. The 800 freestyle relay is the only event set for Thursday and the Jumbos are seeded first with the 6:48.29 time recorded by freshman Joseph Kim, sophomore Tyler Tatro, sophomore John Koster and junior Roger Gu.
Tufts is also the top seed entering the weekend in the 200 free relay, the 200 medley relay and the 400 free relay. The 200 free relay foursome of sophomore JJ Batt, Gu, senior Kingsley Bowen and junior Costa Camerano had a season-best of 1:25.14. A 1:31.10 time in the 200 medley relay by freshman Nate Tingen, junior Matt Manfre, Bowen and Gu was NESCAC's best this season. Tufts' 400 free relay group of Tatro, Bowen, freshman Tar Tar Jarusinchai and Gu are #1 in NESCAC with a 3:04.12 seed time.
Tufts is the defending champs in the 400 free and medley relays. Gu won both the 50 and 100 frees in record times a year ago, while Bowen swept the 50, 100 and 200 backstrokes.
Gu, who set NESCAC records in the 50 (19.77) and 100 (43.44) freestyles at last year's meet, is the top seed in both of those events this year. He's also fourth in the 200 free with a 1:42.89 mark. Tatro is a potential finalist in the 100, 200 and 500 frees, while sophomore John LaLime is Tufts' top distance freestyle hopeful.
Led by Bowen, the Jumbos will also look to score big points in the backstrokes. He is the top seed in the 50 (23.09) and the 100 (50.47) while ranking #3 in the 200 (1:50.96). Kim's 1:48.28 is #1 in the 200 backstroke, with sophomore Nathan Mitchell and freshmen Nate Tingen and Ethan Webster also with scoring potential.
Entering his first conference championship meet, Kim is ranked first in both individual medleys. His 1:54.36 in the 200 leads three Jumbos in the top four for the event including Jarusinchai (1:54.47) and Koster (1:55.15). Kim was the only swimmer in NESCAC to post a sub-four minute 400 IM (3:59.95) this year, and is joined by freshman Michael Gregorace – seeded third in 4:07.51 – as Jumbo leaders in the event.
In the breaststrokes, the Jumbos will be led by junior Alexander Burnam who is ranked second in the 100 (57.88) and the 200 (2:07.46) entering the meet. Manfre is the top Tufts swimmer in the 50 with his 27.29 mark.
Tufts will look to add valuable points in the butterfly events. Freshman Devon French had good times there at the Boston Open recently and sophomore Lomax Turner is seeded among the top eight in all three fly events. Camerano in the 50, Bowen in the 100 and sophomore Dawson Stout and Koster in the 200 are also top-eight seeds.
The Jumbos will have to contend while not having any divers entered in either of those two events this weekend.