In the world of college swimming, it's all about putting it together at the end of the year. For members of the Bates swim teams, that means the entire season points to the NESCAC Championship meet (and if you do well enough there, for the NCAA Championships a few weeks later).
Bates senior Matt Johns (Seaford, N.Y.) epitomized that in a multi-dimensional way last weekend at the NESCAC Men's Swimming & Diving Championships, the last meet of his collegiate career, breaking two of Bates' backstroke records while also swimming the leadoff leg in two record-breaking relay performances.
The first of the meet's three days was a sign of good things to come, as Johns, who is also a member of the Bates men's rowing team, led off Bates' record-breaking 400 medley relay team -- followed by sophomore Andrew Briggs (York, Maine), sophomore Matthew Gagne (Winnetka, Ill.) and senior Nick Karlson (Wayland, Mass.), the quartet finished in 3:26.92. Johns also came with .09 seconds of Dan Aupi's team record in the 50 back, which stood at 24.13 seconds.
Saturday's evening session saw Johns break or help break two team record in a single race, the 200 medley relay. His leadoff leg of 23.92 seconds qualifies as Bates' new record, and with Briggs, junior Venkatesh Duvvuri (South Orange, N.J.) and Karlson, the Bobcats set the team record in 1:33.14. Later that same night, he swam the 100 backstroke in 51.86 seconds, rewriting another mark formerly held by his former teammate Aupi.
"All three [previous] years at Bates, Matt has been going lifetime bests [at NESCACs] and exceeding expectations," wrote head coach Peter Casares on the team blog, The Bobcat Chronicle, "but each year he has known he could be just a bit better if he had a consistent season of training under his belt. It seems every year there has been interruptions by a nagging injury -- or some issue from the sudden switch from rowing to swimming that happens each fall."