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Shortage of Divers Cost Crucial Points

By Ognen J. Nastov
Staff Reporter

The men's swimming and diving team completed its dual meet season competing against Bowdoin College at the Alumni Pool Saturday. The Engineers won the swimming part of the meet. However, the lack of divers on the MIT team enabled Bowdoin to boost their team score by 22 uncontested diving points, and defeat MIT with a small 9-point margin.

"We knew it was going to be a close meet," said Bowdoin's tri-captain Brett Pangburn. "Both teams swam very well, and it was a good, competitive match-up."

"Last year they destroyed us, but we handled them pretty well this year," said tri-captain Alan Liu '94.

The meet opened with the 400-yard medley relay, in which the Engineers placed second and third. Liu was a runner-up in the 1000-yard freestyle (10 minutes 57.42 second), won by Cook of Bowdoin by a margin of 5.38 seconds. David Chatwin '97 captured third place in the same event.

While the 200-yard freestyle was convincingly won by Bowdoin's tri-captain Conrad Stuntz (1:47.27), Christian Hamer '94, Joe Kurtz '96, and Brian Dye '96 placed 2-3-4. The first victory for MIT came in the 50-yard freestyle, in which Matt Lau '97 triumphed in a winning time of 22.82 seconds. "The 50 free was, as always, a race of intensity, a matter of getting yourself psyched up, and psyching out your opponent," exclaimed Lau.

A spectacular 1-2 sweep of the 200-yard individual medley enabled the Engineers to capture the point lead. Tri-captains Ted Achtem '95 (2:00.32) and Vijay Lathi '94 (2:01.20) easily crushed their Bowdoin competitors; MIT scored a total of 4,845. The Bowdoin Polar Bears regained the lead after collecting points for their divers in the 1-meter and 3-meter diving events, as MIT had no divers in both instances.

In some previous dual meets this season, the opponent's coaches have opted not to score their divers against MIT. However, Bowdoin's head coach Charles Butt did not consider the "freebie" uncontested points to be unfair. "It was simply to our advantage that we had divers on our team, and MIT did not," said Butt.

In the 200-yard butterfly, Kurtz and Liu went 2-3, placing behind Cook of Bowdoin. Lathi was again a runner-up in the 100-yard freestyle (50.59), behind the winner Stuntz of Bowdoin (48.97). In his specialty event, the 200-yard backstroke, Achtem destroyed the field with a season's best time of 1:58.40, and an exceptional victory margin of 7.13 seconds ahead of second place finisher Filler of Bowdoin.

The 500-yard freestyle was a dramatic match-up between Stuntz and Hamer. Stuntz eventually claimed the number one spot (5:00.00) and his third victory at the meet, while Hamer ended up second, lagging 2.89 seconds.

"It was such a fun race," said Stuntz while tying up his tie after the meet. "Hamer swam well, and it came down to the last 100." Stuntz explained that Bowdoin's swim team traditionally dresses up when going on away meets in order to get psyched up. It was less clear what Bowdoin's "secret weapon" tradition of wearing silk underwear on away meets was supposed to accomplish.

The hero of the meet was Dye, victorious in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:15.98). While the home crowd roared, Dye outtouched Min of Bowdoin by 0.82 seconds. "We were dead even coming into the last 50 [yards]," said Dye. "But I knew our team needed the points, so I found my fifth gear to beat him."

The meet concluded with the 400-yard freestyle relay, in which the Engineers' A-squad composed of Achtem, Lau, Lathi, and Hamer achieved a convincing victory. The final score was 118-109 for Bowdoin.

"We are happy to win," said Butt, "there were a lot of close races, and it could have gone either way."

"There were some terrific swims," added MIT head coach John Benedick. He added, "I am optimistic about a good New England's. We traditionally swim very well at the Championships, and this team is no different -- they are prepared, and will do well. I do not expect a top four finish like last year, but rather a top 10. However, I know that a few pleasant surprises are in store for our team based on what I have seen so far."