The DePauw men’s swimming and diving team, now ranked 10th in the nation, will face off against the top two teams in Div. III this Thursday in hopes of qualifying for the national competition at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis’s natatorium.
“Everyone is really looking forward to [the meet],” sophomore Cameron Wiethoff said. “I mean, we’re a little nervous going into the NCAC, but we’re confident and had a great season last year and undefeated in dual meets this year so we’re excited and think we’re going to do very well.”
The Tigers sit at a perfect 7-0 in dual meets on the season and coming off a dominant victory over Rose-Hulman 202-57. The Tigers have won the DePauw invitational as well as the Patrick Woehnker Invitational at Wabash College, while placing second at the Washington-St. Louis Invitational.
The Tigers claimed conference championships in the last six years in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, but will face off in their first year in a new and much deeper conference. The team placed an impressive 13th overall at last year’s NCAA Championships.
In their inaugural year in the North Coast Athletic Conference, the team is looking to make a statement going up against the top two ranked swim teams in the nation — Kenyon College and Denison University.
“We definitely want to start out on the right foot heading into the NCAC championships and really set a high marker for us going into the new conference,” senior captain John Montgomery said.
Sophomore Jack Burgeson, who qualified for nationals last season, sees this as a great opportunity to put DePauw swimming on the map.
“We’re kind of in the transition of becoming one of the top teams in the nation, so we’re definitely excited to have the opportunity to swim against these teams at the conference meet before we swim against them at nationals,” Burgeson said. “In our first year we want everyone to know DePauw’s here and we’ll put up a fight.”
The team is looking to improve its times in hopes of making qualifying national cuts for the national championships. With various swimmers qualifying earlier in the year for nationals, the team thinks they will have to improve their times if they want to keep those national cuts. Montgomery understands how important one race can be in a competition as big as the conference championship.
“We all feed off each other,” Montgomery said. “A lot of the national level guys look at the people who might not be the fastest, but they see someone who really steps up in their swim and has waited for this one moment to go fast at conference and a lot of times those swims will motivate us for the bigger swims.”
The team travels to Canton, Ohio to compete in the NCAC Conference Championships on Thursday in hopes of extending its season into the national championships.