LANCASTER, Pa. - The 25th annual Centennial Conference men's swimming championship gets underway Thursday at Franklin & Marshall's Kunkel Aquatic Center. And the big question is ... can Swarthmore repeat last season's magic and defend its championship?
The Garnet swept past the competition to win its first-ever Centennial title a year ago by 120 points, ending Gettysburg's six-year reign on top of the Conference. Swarthmore went 6-0 in CC dual meets this season, including a 133-129 victory at home against the Bullets. Ursinus will also challenge for the team title.
Here is a preview:
500 Freestyle: It will be a battle between the Menzer brothers and a pair of Gettysburg swimmers. Swarthmore freshman Alec Menzer has the top seed time of 4:39.89, while his older brother, Jake, of Ursinus is third at 4:41.76. Defending champ Ogden Leyens of Gettysburg has the second-fastest time of the season (4:41.16), while teammate Josh Parker is a close fourth (4:42.11). Only one Garnet swimmer has ever captured the 500 (Stephen Shymon, 2009), while no Bear has been on the top of the podium in this event.
200 Individual Medley: Dickinson soph Will Freeman posted the top time in the event (1:55.65), while Gettysburg first-year Jack Edelson was right behind at 1:56.53. Defending champ Jeff Tse of Swarthmore (1:57.03) will contend, as will Gettysburg soph Adam Dias (1:57.12). Don't count out 2016 champ Eric Lang of Franklin & Marshall.
50 Freestyle: Gettysburg senior Ty Dougherty looks to join an elite club by winning this event for the third time. Dickinson's Jason Adams took the gold from 2011-14. Dougherty has the top seed time of 20.56, and will face challenges from freshmen Chris Schiavone of F&M (20.61) and Jacob Brown (21.26) of Washington College.
400 Individual Medley: Youth dominates this event with Freeman (4:08.11), Gettysburg freshman Oliver Yancey (4:13.49) and Jake Menzer (4:13.74) posting the three best seed times.
100 Butterfly: Three swimmers also posted under 51-second times to lead the way. Franklin & Marshall soph Eric Dietrich-Peterson has the top time at 50.27, while Tse and Edelson are right behind at 50.68 and 50.94, respectively.
200 Freestyle: Leyens returns to defend his title with the top time of the season (1:41.63). Jake (1:43.26) and Alec (1:43.48) Menzer will contend along with Washington College's Aidan Sullivan (1:44.41).
100 Breaststroke: Dougherty looks to become the fifth Centennial swimmers to capture three golds in this event and has posted the season's best time at 56.55. Franklin & Marshall senior Ryan Caffrey (58.31), Swarthmore junior Chris Smith (58.97) and Washington College junior Kevin Mackenzie (59.13) will also contend for the medal stand.
100 Backstroke: Tse, the 2016 champion, is back with the top seed time of 50.42. F&M first-year Alec Wahl (51.83) will contend along with Gettysburg soph Jeff Ragatz (52.11) and Ursinus freshman Mikey Prior (53.21).
1650 Freestyle: It looks to be a two-man showdown between Ursinus' Menzer (9:47.87) and Swarthmore junior Michael Lutzker (9:51.51). Gettysburg first-year Duncan Proxmire (9:58.67) will battle for a medal.
200 Backstroke: Youth dominates this race with Ragatz (1:52.41) holding the top time and Washington College freshman Andrew Feeley (1:53.04) on his heels. Keep an eye on Prior (1:54.49) and Wahl (1:54.79).
100 Freestyle: Have we mentioned Dougherty? He looks to become the fourth Centennial swimmer to win the event three times and has the season's top time at 45.51. Schiavone (45.85), Leyens (46.19) and Brown (46.94) will push Dougherty.
200 Breaststroke: Dias became the Bullets' first champion in this event last season and has the top seed time in 2018 (2:07.29). Freeman (2:07.80), Tse (2:08.47) and Yancey (2:10.76) will also contend for the medal stand.
200 Butterfly: Edelson (1:54.63), Dietrich-Peterson (1:54.92) and Ursinus senior Colin McNamara (1:55.46) are the three to beat. Don't count out defending champ James Callaghan from Ursinus.