Jeffs Return Top Swimmers from Last Year's Record-Breaking Team

Last season was the best in program history for the Amherst men, who placed fifth at the NCAA Division III Championships for the second time in as many years. Last year's squad earned a program-high 217 points at the national meet, surpassing the previous year's total of 196. Amherst was the top NESCAC school at the championships, notably finishing ahead of Middlebury (7th) and Williams (9th). Leading up to the final week of the season, the Jeffs posted a 6-2 record in dual meets and placed third at the NESCAC Championship to mark the ninth consecutive year they finished in the top three. For the second year in a row Amherst had more wins than did any other school at the conference meet, as eight of the 24 races were won by the Jeffs.

Alex Fraser '11 is coming off a dominant junior year that featured a second consecutive national title in the 500-yard freestyle, an event in which he is the NCAA record holder (4:21.95). In addition to the 500, Fraser was crowned a national champion in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:38.34. In each of the past two years he has won NESCAC titles in the 200 and 500, as well as in the 800-yard freestyle relay.

Joining Fraser in the senior class are Walker Peterson '11 and co-captains Ryan Colby '11 and Reid Fitzgerald '11. Colby was a member of the 800-yard freestyle relay teams that placed fifth at the NCAA Championships in 2008 and second in 2010, also swimming in the 200 free relay at last year's nationals. Colby has also excelled in butterfly events, notably winning the 200 fly in a dual meet against Williams last year. Fitzgerald is one of the team's strongest backstrokers, earning All-NESCAC honors in the 50 and 100 a year ago in addition to helping Amherst place among the top 10 at nationals in the 200 and 400 medley relays.

Ryan Colby '11 will be one of Amherst's top 
swimmers in the butterfly events this year.

Amherst's junior class is loaded with talent, but it was Ryan Lichtenfels '12 who stole the show last season by snapping Kenyon's 20-year streak of winning the 1,650-yard freestyle at the NCAA Championships. Lichtenfels placed second to Kegan Borland '10 in the event in 2009, but last year he pulled ahead of Borland at the 900-yard marker and went on to win by nearly 10 seconds (15:23.80). In addition to winning NESCAC titles in the 1,650 and the 400-yard individual medley, Lichtenfels placed third at nationals in the 400 IM and fifth in the 500 free, also swimming the lead leg in the 800 free relay and the second leg of the 400 free relay.

Ben McBratney '12 did a little bit of everything for Amherst last year as a sophomore, winning conference titles in the 200 IM and 100-yard breaststroke while placing third in the 100 fly. McBratney also helped Amherst excel in freestyle and medley relay events at both the NESCAC and NCAA Championships. Bart Federak '12 and Mike O'Connor '12 join McBratney to form an exceptional trio in the breaststroke events. Federak placed third in the 200 at last year's conference meet and was followed closely by O'Connor in fifth. Tim White '12 is a standout backstroker and major contributor to the Lord Jeffs' freestyle relays. He is the defending NESCAC champion in the 200-yard backstroke and helped Amherst win the 800 free relay at the conference championships. Rounding out the junior class is Dash King '12, who returns to the team as a sprint freestyler. 

Keeping pace with Fitzgerald and White in the backstroke events last season was Daniel Schwab '13, who will look to continue the success he saw as a first-year. Schwab swept the 100- and 200-yard backstroke races against Colby and Middlebury, also winning the 100 against Wesleyan and Union. At the NESCAC Championships he earned an All-Conference honor in the 200 by placing third, also swimming a "B" cut in the 100 to place sixth.

With so many of last season's top performers returning to join an exceptional group of first-years, Amherst has a chance to place in the top five at the NCAA Championships for a third consecutive year and should challenge the program record of 217 points at nationals. The Lord Jeffs will also be looking to improve upon their third-place showing at the NESCAC Championships, and should give eight-time defending champion Williams College a legitimate run for its money.Also coming off an impressive first year is Sheng Hu '13, who excelled in freestyle events throughout the 2009-10 season. Hu was the runner-up in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events against Middlebury, also placing sixth in the 500 at the NESCAC Championships. Against Williams he helped Amherst set a new pool record in the 400 free relay, and against Springfield he was part of the winning 800 free relay team that missed a new pool record by less than two-tenths of a second. Rounding out the sophomore class are Alex Pearlman '13Will McCartan '13 and Jeff Helt '13

Head coach Nick Nichols welcomes 14 first-years to the team despite losing only Tad Homchick '10 and Hunter Mims '10 to graduation. Joining Homchick's younger brother, Robbie, in the Class of 2014 are swimmers Bryson Alef, Connor Beaulieu, Tyler Bulakul, Nick Egan, Peter Landefeld, Conor McAuliffe, Parker Moody, Sam Pritzker, Aron Reynolds and William Ruhm, as well as divers Colin White, Ian Stahl and Fadi Hamati.

The 2010-11 season begins Saturday, Nov. 20, when Colby College comes to Pratt Pool for the first of the Jeffs' five home meets. Highlighting the regular season as always is the dual meet against Williams, which is set for Jan. 8 in Williamstown. The conference championships will be held at Bowdoin College (Feb. 25-27), while this year's NCAA Championships will take place Mar. 23-26 in Knoxville, Tenn.