The men’s swimming and diving team placed fourth at the Patriot League Championships with 469 points on Feb. 17-20. The competition took place at the Naval Academy and ended with an NCAA Championship qualification and 10 Bison top-10 performances.
On the first day of the meet the Bison had an impressive start. In the 800-yard freestyle relay, Louis Behnen ’17, Jack Robinson ’17, Denver Freeman ’17, and Chris Devlin ’18 finished with a time of 6:32.82, beating out the old program record by over three seconds. The 200-yard medley relay made up of Devlin, Sam Mackie ’17, Triston Loux ’18, and Steve Grune ’16 placed fifth with a time of 1:30.25, which ranks second in program history. Tyler Wenzel ’16 and Patrick Alvermann ’16 placed fifth and 12th respectively, in the three-meter dive. After the first day, the Bison sat in third place, just 19 points behind the second place team.
Behnen and Devlin continued with strong performances, gaining individual records in the 500-yard freestyle and the 200-yard IM, respectively. Behnen placed fourth in the free with a time of 4:21.91, which beat out the old record by over a second. In the 400-yard medley, Chadd Cummings ’19, Tarik Lott ’18, Devlin, and Robinson placed fifth with a time of 3:18.52. This beat out the old record by a mere .4 seconds. Devlin qualified in the 200-yard IM for an NCAA “B” cut time of 1:48.72.
“My backstroke felt great, especially in my IM swims the previous days, so my focus was about feeling good and seeing what I could do in that race. I was swimming to beat the kids next to me and score the most points for the team as I could,” Devlin said.
On the final day the Bison were sitting in fourth, but this did not stop the men from competing at the top level. Devlin earned yet another record in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 1:43.14. The Bison dominated in the 1,650-yard freestyle with Behnen placing third, followed by teammates Brian Phillips ’16 in sixth, Sam Rutan ’18 in ninth, and Freeman in 11th. More top performances were accomplished in the 200-yard butterfly and 200-yard breaststroke. Mitch Buccalo ’19 finished sixth with the third best time in University history for the 200 fly, and Cummings also earned third in program history in the 200 breast.
As the competitions concluded, Devlin earned Patriot League Swimmer of the Meet. The last time a Bison won this award was in 1993.
“The team had a great weekend of competing and it was fun to be a part of it,” Devlin said. “It was very evident this year that the meet was faster than in previous years, as teams are becoming deeper and stronger with every new class. In order for myself and the team to continue to succeed, we need to keep working hard and finding new ways to get better.”