JACKSON BLEVINS ‘20 | STAFF WRITER • Last Wednesday marked the start of the NCAC Swimming and Diving Championships at Denison University, and the Little Giants strung together many quality performances throughout the four days of competition to cap off their season with a fourth-place finish.
The long weekend started with the foursome of Kyle Louks ’19, Nick Young ’21, Justin Dusza ’22, and Justin Wallar ’22 shattering their season best time in the 800-yard freestyle relay by 8 seconds, as they finished fifth in the event.
Thursday was highlighted by two all-conference performances as the team moved into third place after two days. Wesley Slaughter ’21, Jan Dziadek ’21, Louks and Wallar finished third with a season- best time of 1:22.82 in the 200-yard freestyle relay to garner all-conference recognition while finishing just a few tenths of a second off of the school record. Aaron Embree ’19 earned all-conference honors after he placed third in the one-meter diving event with a score of 396.60.
“I was very happy overall,” Dziadek said. “I am really happy with the performance of the entire team, especially because we had a coaching change this year. We didn’t know how well we would perform in conference, but it ended up going well, and everyone performed at a high level.” On Friday, another relay team was named all-conference as Hunter Jones ’20, Slaughter, Dziadek, and Louks finished third in the 200- yard medley relay with a time of 1:31.80. Jones also finished in fourth place in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 55.70.
Saturday saw the Little Giants finish the meet strong, as Embree was named NCAC Men’s Diver of the Year. Embree posted a first-place finish in the three-meter dive with a score of 455.55 points. Dziadek earned all-conference status in the 100- yard individual medley, as he broke his own school record of 51.34 with a time of 50.78. Dziadek
also broke another school record in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 1:52.02. Yet another school record was broken in the 400-yard freestyle relay, as the team of Slaughter, Wallar, Dziadek, and Louks posted a time of 3:03.57, which broke the school record by a full second.
“I kept hearing Coach Will [Bernhardt] tell the swimmers to ‘swim their race’,” Embree said. “This means who cares how fast or slow the people beside you are going, swim your race. So, during the whole three-meter competition I kept reminding myself to dive my dives.
That took a great deal of the pressure off and I was able to be more relaxed, and I ended up coming out on top in the end. Through the midst of everything that has changed this year, like getting a new coach and losing several team members, I think everyone did exceptionally well. There were several records broken and even more life-time best swims and that is a combination of hard work and support from a solid team.”
In two weekends, Wabash will be the host site for the NCAA Diving Regional where Embree will compete for a chance to attend the national meet held in Greensboro, North Carolina. Also, Jones is awaiting confirmation to attend the national meet after his performance in the 100-yard breaststroke.