BY ANNA MAZARAKIS
The men’s swimming team left the three-day NCAA Championship Saturday without scoring any points but ready to get to work to make it back next year.
The Tigers (6-2 overall, 5-2 Ivy League) sent a young squad to Indianapolis that included sophomores Connor Maher, Michael Strand and Harrison Wagner and freshmen Byron Sanborn, Sandy Bole and Teo D’Alessandro.
Assistant coach Mitch Dalton noted that the young NCAA team is a result of very strong recruiting classes — the class of 2015 was the 13th best recruiting class in the country, and the class of 2016 was the fifth best.
“Our freshman and sophomores kind of carried the team for us at Ivies, too. They were our largest point scorers there, so it was kind of the natural team we could make for NCAAs,” Dalton said.
The Tigers competed in eight events over the course of the championships, including three on Thursday, three on Friday and two on Saturday.
On Thursday, Sanborn finished 60th in the 200-yard individual medley in 1:48.69, and Wagner placed 30th overall in the 50 freestyle with a time of 19.82. Sanborn, Wagner, Strand and D’Alessandro competed together in the 400 medley relay and timed in at 3:14.43, an Ivy League best at 27th.
The relay team was back on Friday for the 200 medley relay and was able to finish 25th overall with a time of 1:28.13. Bole and Maher then joined Sanborn and D’Alessandro for the 800 free relay, in which they placed 25th at with a time of 6:29.89. Sanborn also competed in the 100 breaststroke in 54.60, finishing 39th.
Saturday saw Sanborn add to his three top-30 finishes of the championship, finishing 27th in the 200 breast with a time of 1:57.59. Bole, D’Alessandro, Maher and Wagner then teamed up to clock in at 2:55.83 for the 400 free relay, placing 23rd overall.
Though Princeton was not able to make it back to any of the evening finals, the team finished in the top 30 in six of its events.
“More than anything, we’re just really proud of the way our guys got up and raced the fastest people in the country and also in the world,” Dalton said. “To have our young guys really get up there, gain some experience, it’s all we could ask for. They really put it on the line and gave it everything they had, and it’ll be good for us down the road.”
The season is now officially over for the men’s swimming team, but Dalton said many swimmers are looking to participate in the U.S. Open in August and a few will look toward the World Championship trials in June. The team will then be back and training in the fall to try to win the Ivy League Championship for a sixth straight year.
“We just need to continue to be hungry, and we need to want to continue to improve,” Strand said. “We had a great team atmosphere this year, so we really need to continue that, we need to continue training hard. I feel like as long as we’re motivated to get the sixth one, then it’s not going to be as hard to get it as it would be if we weren’t motivated and just thought we could win it and not deserve to win it.”