Swimmers earn Honorable Mentions in five events, finish 19th at nationals

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The DePauw men’s swimming and diving team ended what has been an accomplished and exciting season with nine swimmers achieving Honorable Mention All-American performances at the Div. national championships. The team finished 19th in the country with 44 points. NCAC opponents Denison University and Kenyon College finished first and second with 600 and 519 points, respectively.

The team sent nine swimmers total in nine individual events and five relays. Freshman Casey Hooker was the only Tiger to earn a Honorable Mention individually. He placed 15th in the 200-yard freestyle (1:40.42).

Four out of the five relays received honorable mentions, with the 800 freestyle relay of Hooker, sophomore Matt Haeske, junior Robbie Spichiger and senior John Montgomery earning the highest finish of the four in 9th (6:44.38).

Head coach Adam Cohen pushed his squad to improve continually improve throughout the season and found that while the team was happy with its final outing, it was not necessarily satisfied.

“I think we we’re pleased, but I also think we left a little bit hungrier to get better,” Cohen said. “There is some unfinished business, hopefully we can take away and work on it next year.”

Montgomery saw the team’s success during the regular season as part of the motivation to keep getting better.

“Expectations were high and we met a good majority of our goals,” Montgomery said. “And because we met so many goals so early on in the year, like undefeated in dual meets, qualifying more national qualifiers than ever – we we’re left hungrier just because how much we improved during the year.”

This season was of course the inaugural season for the Tigers in the NCAC, one of the fastest swimming conferences in the nation. NCAC competitors Denison and Kenyon consistently ranked as the top two programs in the nation during the year and both teams finished as such at nationals. Cohen understands this will challenge the team, but is not allowing stiff competition to phase his team.

“It’s our reality,” Cohen said in reference to facing Denison and Kenyon in the future. “I don’t think you can be intimidated or excited, it’s the reality you’re deal with. So you have to deal with it, right?

Cohen also understands that seeing these teams continually does have its benefits.

“For us, the one advantage is we’ve swam them, we’ve seen them and that helps us,” Cohen said. “So I see it as a positive. You can’t afford to step out there and be intimidated by them…We’ll continue to be a part of the fastest conference in the country and we’ll deal with that.”

Cohen and the rest of the Tiger squad finally get a well-deserved break before the 2012-13 season begins in the fall, which Cohen is already looking towards.

“I think it will be tough,” Cohen said of the upcoming season. “Johnny (Montgomery) is one of DPU’s elite swimmers. He had a career that, when we talk about the great swimmers at DPU on the men’s side, Johnny’s name will be a part of that now. On the flip side, we’ll have more returning national swimmers than we’ve ever had before. There is a lot of chance for leadership to continue to blossom…We know we have people who will step up.”