Tide wraps up spring season

Marilyn Vaughn

From March 25 to 27, the men’s swimming and diving team wrapped up its last meet of the season in Columbus, Ohio, at the NCAA Championships.

The team qualified three swimmers for the meet, where two of them would go on to receive All-American honors. Senior Aaron Fleshner placed 8th off the 3 meter board and scored 394.85 points to receive All-American honors and scored 354.10 points on the platform to receive honorable mention All-American honors in that event. Senior Mark Randall placed 8th in 1,650 meter freestyle with a time of 14:53.71 to receive All-American honors. The team would go on to place 26th overall at the meet.

“A little disappointed with our finish, you know you always want to be better,” said head coach Eric Mcllquham. “Missing out on top 25 is one of those things we need to be at, our goals were much higher at the beginning of the year, and we fell a little bit short on those goals but those kids who were there competed and did a nice job competing. We just got to change a little bit the numbers we get there for next year.”

The Tide sent just one underclassman to the championship, Denes Zubcsek. The junior’s best finish was 18th in the 200 butterfly with a time of 1:44.92. Zubcsek also competed in the 100 butterfly where he posted a season best of 47.99 and placed 41st.

“[Denes] will definitely rise into a position, his first year there he had a rough go at NCAAs. He’s been growing and getting better and stronger and more confident this year. I expect him in the final and All-American position next year,” McIlquham said.

With the Tide’s top diver and distance specialist leaving this season, McIlquham said he sees some holes that can be filled on the roster, but also said there are some swimmers already on the team who can fill these leadership positions.

“Talent wise we have some pretty good athletes coming in, but specifically in the distance and diving Adam Booher will have to step up, Catalin Cosma who is the number two ranked miler on the team will be able to step into that role and take a little more prominence,” McIlquham said.

The men’s team will be returning 21 underclassmen and will hopefully be able to use the experience of this group to qualify more people for NCAAs and score higher in the meet next season.

“It’s just a matter of making sure we get those relays together,” Mcllquham said. “If we have one guy off on a relay, that cuts that relay team up, it’s just a matter of making sure everyone’s healthy. That’ll put us at the nine competitors we need to compete for a top ten spot [in NCAAs].”

Those who have previously competed in the NCAA Championships offer advice to their underclassmen teammates.

“Don’t underestimate your opponent,” Fleshner said.