SWIMMING: Undefeated

Josh Buckman

After having to struggle for more than four-and-a-half hours to defeat SMS and Emory last Saturday, the Hilltoppers had no trouble beating Evansville 121-53 to complete the team’s seventh undefeated season on Wednesday.

The team finishes their dual meet season undefeated at 15-0, giving them their first undefeated season in three years. They also matched their best record set in 1998-99.

“I never even dreamed of this team being undefeated,” coach Bill Powell said. “Never, it never entered my mind.

“I felt like we would be stronger than last year, but I had never idea that we would get this strong.”

The meet is also Powell’s 316th men’s coaching victory in dual meets. He is first among active coaches, and just two wins behind long time Southern California coach Peter Daland for second all time.

Outside of a four-point win at Ball State, the Hilltoppers have won every other dual meet by over 20 points.

The Hilltoppers began the meet appropriately when seniors Gord Veldman, Charlie Knight, junior Ryan Crosby and senior Jerrod Janes set a new school record of 1:32.43. in the 400-yard medley relay.

But the rest of the meet was played mostly for fun, allowing both teams to compete in events that would not be seen in most meets. The teams competed in five meets that were only 25 yards — in most meets 50 yards is the shortest.

Sophomore Alex Handley won the 200-yard freestyle for the Hilltoppers, and junior Drew Aldridge took the top spot in the 50-yard freestyle.

The team also seems to have benefited from first-year associate Bruce Marchionda’s workout plan. Evaluating swimmers individually, Marchionda has put together a program designed to help each swimmers particular needs.

“With a coach like Bruce coming in and Coach Powell and all the guys we have this year, at the beginning of the year, I knew we’d be incredible,” Pollock said.

The Hilltoppers will now prepare for their next challenge of the season — the National Independent Championships on Feb. 26-March 1 in Rochester Hills, Mich.

There they will attempt to improve upon their fourth place finish by attempting to avenge losses to Oakland, Hawaii and Southern Methodist.

“I think we have a possibility of even winning (NIC),” Raniere said. “Everyone’s got to go in there with focus, and I think we’ll do fine.”

Reach Josh Buckman at [email protected]