The Tech men’s swimming and diving season concluded this past weekend. The Jackets sent six swimmers to Austin, Texas to compete in the 2014 NCAA swimming and diving championship. Among the qualifying swimmers were junior swimmers Andrew Kosic and Nico van Duijn, who both competed in their second straight NCAA championship. Making their first appearances in the NCAA championships were freshmen Taylor Wilson and Declan Poorman along with sophomores Ricky Lehner and Mats Westergren.
Individually Kosic qualified for the 100 free, 50 free and 100 fly events and van Duijn qualified for the 200 fly, 100 fly and 50 free. Kosic and van Duijn also swam in the 200 medley relay and the 800 free relay. Joining them in the relays were Poorman and Westergren, who swam in the 800 free relay. Lehner and Wilson swam in 200 medley relay.
Kosic and van Duijn used their experiences from last year to perform better this season and make it back to NCAAs.
“Getting a feel for the [NCAA] Championship last year as a relay swimmer and knowing what to expect definitely put me in a better position this year,” van Duijn said. “[During] my first year, I didn’t quite feel like I was an important part of the meet. I kept telling myself that I was ‘only’ a relay swimmer, which hindered my performance. But last year, I realized that NCAAs are quite different from ACC championships, in that most people are coming off their second taper so the heats are usually slower than the entries. But at night all bets are off.”
On Thursday, in the preliminaries for the 50 free, Kosic broke his own school record and put down a time a 19.42. In the B-final, Kosic’s 50 free time was 19.57 which was placed No. 15. Kosic’s 15th place finish gave the Jackets 1.5 points and he became the first swimmer to score points at the NCAA Championships since Gal Nevo in 2010.
Van Duijn finished as No. 47 overall in the 50 free with a time of 20.13.
“My goals heading into the championship were to improve on my seed times and qualify for a swim at night [the finals session],” van Duijn said. “I recorded a personal best time and qualified for the consolation final in the 50 free, so overall I was pleased with the results.”
On Friday, Tech swimmers competed in several more events. In the 800 free relay, Tech finished in 23rd place with a time of 6:27.71. In the 200 medley relay, Tech finished 29th with a time of 1:28.14. Kosic and van Duijn also raced in the 100 fly. Kosic finished 29th with a time of 47.06 seconds and van Duijn was 30th with a time of 47.09 seconds.
The last day of the meet was Saturday with Kosic racing in the 100 free and van Duijn in the 200 fly. Van Duijn finished 20th in the 200 fly with a time of 1:43:69 and Kosic was 27th in the 100 free after putting down a time of 43.20.
Both Kosic and van Duijn took a lot away from the NCAA championships. They look forward to getting back next year and hope the team will have even more qualifiers next season.
“The NCAA was an amazing meet to be a part of—there were so many incredible swimmers competing and numerous American and US Open records being broken,” Kosic said. “Every chance that I get to swim against competition of that caliber better prepares me for future competitions and gives me more confidence that I can compete on that level.”
“I think the biggest thing we’re bringing home from this event is knowing that we are part of the fastest swimming team in the country, and that we can be competitive on such a high level. Now we need to make sure the whole team catches that drift,” van Duijn said.
The Jacket swimming season is officially over, but there is no rest for these swimmers if they want to continue to stay competitive on a national level.
“The off season means that there is no collegiate swimming, van Duijn said. In order to be competitive on a national and international scale, we cannot afford to take more than two weeks off in a year. It is not uncommon for internationally competitive swimmers to train more than 30 hours a week. During the season we are bound by the NCAA limit of 20 hours. Personally, I will be doing more in the off-season with my club team now that the NCAA chains are off. I will be competing in a bigger meet in mid-June in order to qualify for the European Championships….”