Andover Boys Swimming Slips Past LC Pelicans in Nail Biter

The Boys Varsity Swim team sure knows how to keep its fans on their seats until the very end of the meet. Last Saturday, the Big Blue was asked to prove its true strength and depth as it squeaked past the Loomis Pelicans by a narrow margin of 4 points. The meet came down to the last race of the day, the 400 Free Relay, where the team confirmed its unrelenting courage and drive by placing first and third in the event. This brought the final score to 94-90 in favor of the Big Blue. The Big Blue began its day with a tremendous display of talent by placing first and second in the 200 Medley Relay. Leading off the A relay was Jeff Zhou ’06, followed by Robert Gucwa ’04, Captain Paul Randt ’04, and Tom Yeung ’04. Andover’s B relay touched in half a second ahead of Loomis’s A relay to put Andover 10 points ahead of Loomis for the start of the meet. Eager for revenge, Loomis fought back hard in the first individual race, the 200 yard freestyle. Trailing a speedy Choate swimmer, Aaron Stroble ’04 finished close behind Choate’s top finisher, coming in at 1:54.51 to secure second for Andover Blue. The following race, the 200 IM, was dominated by one of Andover’s top varsity members, Gucwa, who touched in at 2:04.25, beating his nearest competitor by over four seconds. Two Loomis swimmers finished ahead of Andover’s second competitor to bring Loomis only four points behind Andover. The Andover Blue did not give the Pelicans time to rejoice, however, shocking its competitors by placing second, third and fourth in the following 50 freestyle event. Leading the Andover pack was Zhou, touching in at 23.01, closely followed by Captain Randt and Rob Anderson ’06 who came in at 23.17 and 24.14, respectively. The Loomis team pulled ahead after diving, earning enough points to push them 3 points ahead of Andover. Andover’s top diver, Cory Psoinos ’07 placed second, an amazing accomplishment considering he failed to complete one of his dives. The points gained by Psoinos’ second place finish were critical to helping the Andover Blue triumph over Loomis. The Achilles heel for this young team is the 100 fly, where the top Andover competitors placed fourth and fifth. Captain Randt explained, “The 100 fly is a very difficult event to swim, and it is a hard event to find swimmers that will volunteer to compete in it.” The Andover Blue made a come back in the 100 free, matching its earlier success in the 50-yard free and proving once again its incredible talent and depth in the sprint freestyle events. The Andover pack was led by Captain Randt and Jamie Neuwirth ‘06, who tied for second, finishing with a time of 51.68. Representing the Andover Blue in the grueling 500-yard freestyle were Stroble and freshman Ryan Ferguson ’07. Stroble came in two seconds behind his Loomis competitor with a time of 5:22.53. In fourth was Ferguson with a time of 5:30.10, a five second drop from last week’s competition. The meet came down to the last few events, and the Boys in Blue proved they are indeed fighters by securing wins in the last four events to close in on Loomis. The 200 Free A Relay, composed of Zhou, Yeung, Neuwirth, and Randt placed first. Zhou followed his relay win with a victory in the 100 back. Teammate Anderson trailed closely behind, finishing second in the event. Gucwa dominated the 100 breaststroke to secure his second win of the day with a time of 1:01.86, nearly 3 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor. It was the last race of the day that secured the win for Andover. With fans going wild, and teammates screaming and jumping up and down the deck, the Andover Boys placed first, third, and fifth. This earned them the necessary 10 points to win the meet. “Coming down to the last relay, we knew we had to place first and third, and what was amazing was that each member of the team stepped up to play their role in defeating Loomis. The points from the B relay mattered just as much as those from the A, and it was the B and C teams that won the meet for us,” explained Stroble. But beyond the fact that the 400 free relay secured Andover’s win, the improvement in times was the most astounding result. Captain Randt describes his enthusiasm over the race, “10 out of 12 of the swimmers in the 400 free relay earned personal best times. This was incredible, and it was true for the whole meet as everyone stepped up to do their part, and we won some close races. If we keep this up, there will be very few teams that will be able to beat us in the end.”