In its final meet of 2012, the Harvard men’s swimming and diving team faced its stiffest test of the season so far.
After three straight dual meet wins against Ivy League opponents, the Crimson travelled to the University of Georgia Invitational to take on some of the best collegiate teams in the country. The eight-team field featured six squads ranked in the top 20 nationally.
“Our mentality was to take advantage of this opportunity to compete against some of the best teams in the country and see where we stack up,” co-captain Owen Wurzbacher said. “We wanted to challenge ourselves and expose ourselves to the best that the country has to offer.”
Strong performances across the board led Harvard to a sixth-place finish with a 311 point total.
Two-time defending national champion UC Berkeley ran away with the event as the Bears racked up 856 points over the weekend. Virginia finished second with 702 points, followed by host Georgia, which tallied 662.5 points.
The Crimson contingent was led by the strong individual performance of sophomore Chuck Katis, who set two program records and earned NCAA ‘A’ standards in both the 100m and 200m breast stroke—immediately qualifying him for NCAA championships in both events.
Katis set a new Harvard school record in his preliminary swim for the 100, only to better his time in the finals en route to a first-place finish.
The next day, Katis beat out all of his competitors in the 200 final. His mark of 1:54.08 was the second-best time in the country this season.
“I basically set out this season with that goal in mind, to get the ‘A’ cuts early,” Katis said. “I think I accomplished what I was looking to get out of the weekend.”
Katis also set a personal record on the first day of competition in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:45.86.
Katis’ performance anchored a strong weekend of swims from many of the team members.
“Across the board, guys are swimming their best times in season,” Wurzbacher said. “We’ve had guys placing in finals every night. Both Chuck’s performance as an individual and across the team, our performance has been really, really strong.”
Also competing in the 200 breast, sophomore Matthew Karle came in 20th with a time of 2:03.96, less than a second off his personal best. Junior Jason Ting finished just behind in 22nd with a time of 2:05.64.
The Crimson also had three swimmers place in the top 20 in the 100 free. Junior Chris Satterthwaite swam in a time of 44.30, good for sixth place. Sophomore Griffin Schumacher finished in 11th, and junior Oliver Lee took 12th. Sophomore Zach Walters, the fourth Harvard swimmer in the event, came in 21st.
In the 400 free relay, the Crimson took third place, as Katis, Satterthwaite, Schumacher, and Lee combined for a time of 2:55.45 in the event.