To conclude its record-breaking season, Andover Boys Swimming & Diving edged out Brunswick by .51 seconds in the 400-Yard Freestyle Relay. This was the final race of the meet, completing Andover’s fourth consecutive championship title at the New England Prep School Athletic Championships.
The relay team was comprised of Sam Donchi ’20, Marcus Lee ’21, Captain Neil Simpson ’19, and anchor Max Hunger ’20, who overtook Brunswick in the final 25 yards of the race to win for Andover.
“One of my favorite moments was the 400-Yard Free Relay. We knew we were going to win regardless [of the outcome of that relay], but it was the last relay, so we really wanted to win and Brunswick was a really strong opponent. We were trailing, and then Max Hunger sprinted the last 25 [yards] to give us the win, so I think that was pretty memorable,” said Hank Yang ’22.
The team traveled to Deerfield, Mass., to compete on March 2 and 3. After the team won Easterns–the most prestigious high school meet in the country, according to Head Coach David Fox–by more than 120 points on February 15 and 16, the team was ready to compete in its final competition of the according to Simpson and Lance Freiman ’19.
Simpson said, “I was impressed with the way everyone handled New Englands just two weeks after a big showing at Easterns. Everyone was still focused, everyone was still ready. I felt like people were still not satisfied when we got to New Englands, so everyone was able to get up and do a good job.”
“I thought we swam pretty well as a team. I don’t know if we were as sharp as we were at Easterns, but overall we did a pretty good job. For Easterns, we did a two-week rest, but for New Englands, we did a four-week rest, and at that point, I think some of us were over-rested, some of us were under-rested. We were all at different places, but we still performed well. We still had a very good meet overall,” said Freiman.
Simpson explained how the structure of New Englands helped him swim well.
“[At] Easterns, you have to get back to the hotel, eat, sleep, and come back. It’s kind of mentally taxing by the time you get to the end of a session during a night of Easterns. But New Englands – you come in fresh, you come in ready. You go in with a clear mind because you’ve had a day of break, and I thought that helped me,” he said.
Andover had numerous record-breaking swims at New Englands, both in the preliminary and final sessions, which were held on separate days, according to Simpson. In total, the team broke New England, meet, pool, and school records in 13 swims and surpassed All-American consideration 12 times.
Simpson said, “I remember one of the first swims of the day during prelims was Riku Tanaka’s [’20] 200-Yard Freestyle. He dropped a best time, popped into the A final, and I feel like that swim kind of elevated the energy for the rest of the day and got everyone swimming fast.”
Andover placed top qualifiers in the top 16 in all but four individual events and all three of its top qualifiers in the A final of the 200-Yard Freestyle, 100-Yard Fly, and 500-Yard Free. In addition, its B relays in the 200-Yard Medley, 200- Yard Freestyle, and 400-Yard Freestyle would have placed fifth, eighth, and fifth in each event, but the B relays for every team were swum as exhibition per meet rules.
In the diving portion of the meet, Captain Ora Cullen ’19, Jack Curtin ’19, and Bennett Pease ’21 placed fourth, 14th, and 15th, respectively.
While the team won the meet by 94 points, there is always room for improvement, according to Simpson.
“The thing about swimming is: you’re always trying to get faster. So, yes, New England’s was the end of the season. Yes, some of us went faster at that meet, but at the end of the day, the sport of swimming is about always getting faster, so I don’t think everyone will really be ‘satisfied.’”