Amherst Primed for Breakout Season in 2008-09

2007-08 RECAP
Amherst's dual meet season began with four consecutive wins, highlighted by a dominant 193-98 victory over Middlebury in the home opener and a 201-97 victory at Hamilton. The Lord Jeffs alternated wins and losses in the backend of the season to move to 6-2 heading into the NESCAC Championships, where they placed third with 1,390 points behind Tufts (1,480) and Williams (1,860). Amherst took home four individual titles at the conference championships, setting two meet records and one pool record along the way. 

Eight of Amherst's men earned a trip to the NCAA Championships to lead the Lord Jeffs to a 10th place showing behind a pair of individual titles. Throughout the 2007-08 season, Amherst set team records in nine events, including a new NESCAC record in the 400 freestyle relay. 

Amherst loses a deep group of eight to graduation, highlighted by last year's captains Andrew Maslan (backstroke), Derek Prill (breaststroke, IM) and David Ullian (butterfly). Maslan competed in the 200 and 800 freestyle relay events at last year's NCAA Championships, as well as the 200 medley relay and 400 IM. Prill also took part in the 200 medley relay and was a contributor to Amherst's stellar performance in the 400 freestyle relay. 

The Jeffs will also be without divers Connor Boyd and Adam Bookman. Boyd earned All-NESCAC honors last year in the 1- and 3-meter events and was named the conference's Four-Year High Point Diver before earning a trip to the NCAA Championships, where he placed 20th on the 1-meter board and 16th on the 3-meter board. Rounding out the Class of 2008 are James Stanton (breaststroke, IM), Andrew Vasta (backstroke) and Mike Bernstein (mid-distance freestyle). 

Captaining this year's men's team will be Josiah Bethards (backstroke), Joe Scala (freestyle) and Christian Witzke (freestyle). After earning five All-NESCAC honors last year, Witzke competed in six events at the NCAA Championships (50, 100 and 200 freestyle; 200, 400 and 800 freestyle relay). Witzke helped lead the Jeffs to fourth place in the 400 freestyle relay (3:02.05) and fifth place in the 800 (6:44.56), adding a 16th place time of 1:43.21 in the 200 freestyle. 

Also earning All-NESCAC honors last year was Mike Waskom (backstroke), who finished in the top three at the conference championships in the 50 and 100 backstroke events, as well as the 400 medley relay. Rounding out the senior swimmers are Alec Goldfield (butterfly, IM), C.J. Holmes (butterfly), Dan Peterson (breaststroke) and Chris Resler (sprint freestyle). 

Amherst's lone diver is senior Kai Robinson, the reigning NESCAC and NCAA Diver of the Meet. After winning the 1- and 3-meter events at the conference championships, Robinson won a pair of national titles with a score of 535.55 on the 3-meter board and a 499.75 on the 1-meter board. Returning to coach Robinson back to nationals is Mary Ellen Clark, who earned Diving Coach of the Meet honors at last year's NCAA Championships.

The small but talented junior class consists of Tad Homchick (sprint freestyle, butterfly) and Hunter Mims (butterfly, freestyle). Homchick returns a wealth of experience as a three-time All-NESCAC honoree who competed in five events at last year's national championships. In addition to competing in the 50 freestyle, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay, Homchick was a part of the fourth place 400 freestyle relay team.

Ryan Colby (distance freestyle) and Alex Fraser (freestyle) highlight a stellar sophomore class. While Colby earned All-NESCAC honors in the 1000 freestyle and two relay events, Fraser was an All-Conference honoree in seven events. Fraser placed third, eighth and 13th in the 200, 500 and 100 freestyle events, respectively, as the only first-year to place in the top 16 in any of the three events. Fraser also took part in four of the team's relay events. Colby, meanwhile, competed in the 200, 500 and 1650 freestyle events, as well as the 800 freestyle relay. Adding depth to the sophomore class are Walker Peterson (distance freestyle) and Reid Fitzgerald (backstroke, freestyle). 

Seven first-years join the team for the 2008-09, as head coach Nick Nichols welcomes Greg Barrett (freestyle), Bart Federak (breaststroke, butterfly, IM), Dash King (sprint freestyle), Ryan Lichtenfels (backstroke, IM), Ben McBratney (breaststroke, butterfly, freestyle), Mike O'Connor (breaststroke) and Tim White (distance freestyle, IM). In addition, Nichols welcomes assistant coach Karin Brown to the staff. Brown was an accomplished swimmer at Carleton College, where she graduated in the spring of 2008.

With Robinson primed to defend his NESCAC and national titles in the diving events, as well as the majority of Amherst's solid relay teams returning to the pool this year, the Lord Jeffs could very well have their best season in recent program history. The Jeffs open their season Saturday, Nov. 22 when they host Colby College at 2 p.m., followed by a home meet with Wesleyan Monday, Nov. 24 at 6 p.m.