Heartbreak painted the faces of the Boys Varsity Swimming team as it watched its aspirations for a New England Championship title slip away. It was a brutal ending to boys’ near-perfect season, as the team missed the winners’ podium by one slot this past weekend at Interschols. The meet, held at Deerfield Academy, was a day-long event in which all the Big Blue swimmers competed in individual events in the morning. Those who placed in the top sixteen returned in the evening to compete for points. The relay teams also competed during the second session. All in all, seven individual swimmers and the three relay races racked up points for Andover. Of the meet, Captain Brian Fiske ’03 commented, “Though I know some guys might have been a little disappointed in how they personally swam in their races, there were some exceptional swims. Bryce [Kaufman ’03], Dave [Hill ’03], Aaron [Stroble ’04], Paull [Randt ’04], and Jamie [Neuwirth ’06] all swam exceptionally well. I think everyone went home with at least one best time. We were especially unlucky in prelims, we had several guys place ninth and just get nudged out of finals. We scored the same amount of points this year as we did last, our fourth place finish was only due to the league getting better, which is exciting to see.” Fiske continued, “While I think some of the guys may have been disappointed that we didn’t swim to our full capacity or show our full strength, which I can agree with, I don’t think anyone should be disappointed with the results.” Leading the scoring pack of swimmers were Co-captains Hill and Fiske. They both swam in the championship finals heat of the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke. In the 200 IM, Geoffrey Rathgeber ’04 from Hotchkiss captured the event with an impressive 1:49:92 and broke Fiske’s New England Prep Record set in 2002. However, Fiske came in a strong third with a 1:54.32, followed closely by Hill who took fourth with a personal best of 1:57.3– three full seconds faster than his best time before the meet. Fiske, motivated by his 200 IM, dominated the breaststroke and won the event easily. Though his 57.46 clocking was not good enough to break his previous New England Prep record of 57.07, it was certainly good enough to crush his closest competition. Hill cruised to his second fourth place finish of the day, with a time of 1:00.41. The Co-Captains were joined by Jeff Zhou ’06 and Tom Lesnick ’05 to make up a powerful 200 IM relay team. The boys rolled in second place with a time of 1:39.13. Fiske, Neuwirth, Gavin Kuangparichat ’03, and Randt combined for the 200 freestyle relay. Randt stood out from the pack, as he anchored the team with an impressive split of 21.87. Despite the team’s best efforts, the PA team could do no better than a sixth place finish. Randt, in addition to the relay, had quite a solid day. In the consolation finals of the 50 freestyle, he broke the 23 second mark for the first time to win his heat. Randt continued his day with a decent race in the 100 free, where he placed twelfth. Andover fared slightly better in the 4×100 freestyle relay. The team of Lesnick, Randt, Zhou, and Hill swam to a fourth place finish. All four swimmers went out hard in their first fifty but puttered out in the last two laps of the grueling race. Said Coach Jacques Hugon ’79, “The boys had the disadvantage to swim in the penultimate heat, without the competition of the best teams around them to push them.” Andover made gains on the competition in the 100 backstroke. Both Lesnick and Zhou made the championship final heat, as each swam to personal best times. Zhou clocked in at 55.76 during the prelims. Lesnick swam even faster at night, clocking a 55.50. With his PB, Lesnick took fifth in the event with Zhou right behind in sixth. Kaufman, who knocked half a second off his prelim time to come in thirteenth with a time of 59.30 also gained points in the 100 backstroke. Earlier in the meet, Kaufman had raced an outstanding 200 IM. After the Exeter meet, he had set a personal goal for himself to get his time down three seconds to the 2:08 range. While this was indeed a lofty goal, it was one which Kaufman accomplished, as he dropped the three seconds and took his time down to 2:08.37. In the process, Kaufman nabbed a twelfth place finish for the Blue. Stroble, who also had an outstanding day, tallied six points for Andover. He dropped three seconds in the 200 freestyle to finish with a PB of 1:52.48, fast enough for fifteenth place. In the diving competition, Andover’s sole diver JC MacMillan ’03 brought home a third place medal. MacMillan set a personal best in the 1-meter diving competition of eleven dives with a grand total of 404.20. The event marked the first time MacMillan had surpassed the 400-point mark. Coach Hugon pointed to many of Andover’s younger swimmers as boys who will be looked to next year to continue the winning tradition. He called Neuwirth a “super-sprinter,” and the name is well deserved. Neuwirth swam his 50 and 100 freestyle races in 23.63 and 51.90 respectively. Though only a freshman, Neuwirth improved his 100 freestyle time by over five seconds over the course of the season. Classmate Rob Anderson ’06 will also be counted upon to provide speed for the team. Anderson clocked an impressive 100-backstroke time of 1:01.67, earning him a nineteenth place finish. Coach Hugon concluded, saying, “I am very pleased with the overall performance of the team, with most of our swimmers recording personal best times, and the depth of our team, with many young swimmers stepping up and swimming fast in their first Interschols meet.” “Our fourth place is a fitting conclusion to a terrific dual meet season (6-1), and while we will be graduating an outstanding group of seniors, this meet does show that we have the depth of talent needed to continue our winning tradition for next year, and years to come.”
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