Seniors lead swim, dive teams in championships

The Colby men’s swimming and diving season came to a close on Sunday afternoon. After a long and exhausting championship weekend, the team returned from Middlebury with their heads held high, looking forward to a well-earned rest. After three days of competition the team finished in 10th place with 440 points, second to last in the NESCAC. Williams College, a league swimming powerhouse, won its 13th-straight men’s title with a dominating 2,066.5 points. Despite their low ranking, the Mules felt a sense of accomplishment, coming home with numerous personal best scores and even a few school records to etch into the books.

Jon Eichholz, a senior diver, felt proud to be a part of the team. “It’s a pretty long and tiring event. You have two sessions every day, you have preliminaries in the morning where you swim every event, and based on those times you’re selected to come back in the evening to swim in a certain heat. The most important thing was really keeping our energy level up and supporting our teammates. That’s something we did very well at this year. There was a lot of cheering going on, a lot of excitement from the guys. Everybody was extremely pumped to go out there and light up the water.”

The energy Eichholz described eminates from the team’s captains, Vince Galea ’15 and Ryan Bachur ’15. As two of the team’s four seniors, Galea and Bachur proved critical to the team’s efforts, both in and out of the water. Galea, whose impressive scores are likely to land him a spot at the Division III National Championship, came back to Colby with three new school records to his name. “He has been working pretty hard for the past couple of years,” Eichholz said. “In-season, off-season, he’s spending a lot of time in the weight room and a lot of time in the pool. It really showed this past weekend in breaking every freestyle record this school has and taking podium in all three of those races.”

Eichholz described Bachur as hard working, stoic, and a great team leader. Bachur’s experience and calming presence proved invaluable to the team’s successes. The senior exhibited his leadership and swimming prowess as the anchor of the freestyle relay team (which also included Galea, John Blackburn ’17, and John Devine ’18), which broke Colby’s record by more than two seconds. He was a part of that record time, too. “We had been thinking about that record all season,” Bachur said. “We knew we had the talent and ability to do it, but we we’re going to have to really push it. But we absolutely had some of the fastest races of our lives in that particular relay, and we crushed our record.” Bachur, whose commitment to swimming means shaving his head bald rather than using a dome cap, finished his swimming career with a personal best time 100-meter freestyle as the anchor of the 400-meter relay.

In describing that final relay, Bachur could hardly hold back his emotions. As the team’s anchor, he got to see each of his teammates race in front of him. The position as the team’s final swimmer is exhilarating, but also comes with immense pressure—especially when your teammates have set you up to break a school record. “It’s an unbelievable feeling to be diving into the water last, knowing that our coaches and my teammates have the confidence in me that I’ll either hold the lead or gain back a couple of places.” The anchor position held a special meaning to him this year, as he knew he would be the last swimmer in the last meet of his college athletic career. “After Vince broke his own school record again, at that point I was totally zoned in. Yes, it was my last race, but I wasn’t trying to think of it that way.…Obviously [for] my last race I wanted to have no regrets, to just go and swim as fast as I could and bring it home and that’s what I did. When I got out I took my goggles off, hugged my teammates and cried a little bit, I’m not going to lie.”

Both Bachur and Eichholz expressed optimism about the future of the men’s swimming and diving teams. With multiple underclassmen scoring (meaning finishing in the top 24), the team seems well-positioned to continue to push for school records. It will be up to Blackburn and Devine to continue the team’s relay successes, while junior Tyler Lewtan will look to score well in the butterfly events (he finished 10th this year). As for the diving side, Eichholz is confident that John Pintauro ’17 will continue to improve over the next few years. After all these schools records and the best record in dual meets in nine years (4-4), Colby men’s swimming and diving team has earned a relaxing offseason.

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