The Harvard men’s swimming and diving program has touched the wall on its 2013-2014 season as six swimmers and one diver competed this weekend in the NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas. Junior diver Mike Mosca was the top performer of the weekend, earning an All-American title.
Mosca had his first NCAA appearance last season, when he finished 28th on the three-meter board and 32nd on the one-meter board. This year, he was able to improve in both events.
On the first day of competition, the Ivy League champion took on the one-meter board, coming in 30th with a score of 291.15. The second day brought Mosca to the three-meter board, coming in 13th place with a score of 367.70 in the preliminary heat and 392.65 in the consolation finals.
Mosca’s performance on the three-meter board made him the first Crimson All-American diver since Craig Narveson ’94. Mosca is the 153rd All-American in Harvard history.
“I’ve learned two new dives since last year, both on the one-meter and three-meter,” Mosca said. “I’ve got a harder list, and I think I’m just a bit more confident in my dives.”
Five swimmers joined Mosca in Texas to compete at the national level. Freshman Eric Ronda was the only other individual competitor, while senior Danny Crigler, junior Griffin Schumacher, sophomore Jacob Luna, and freshman Jack Manchester competed in four different relay events.
“The more people that get to go the better experience it is overall,” Mosca said.
In his first NCAA appearance, Ronda captured 28th place in the 200 breaststroke and 39th in the 100 breaststroke. During the regular season, Ronda swept the two breaststroke events three times, most recently against Penn on Feb. 8. The freshman took second in both events at the Ivy Championship meet.
“He set the tempo in his race right away, which is a skill he’s been trying to work on all year,” Harvard coach Kevin Tyrrell said. “Doing that at this level was very important for him.”
Crigler also had a strong weekend in his final competition as a member of the Crimson. The senior anchored the freestyle relay in 43.7 seconds. In the same race, Schumacher had a personal best time in his lead off leg, touching the wall in 43.36. Schumacher, Manchester, Luna, and Criger came in 27th in the event.
The 400 freestyle relay was one of four relays in which Harvard competed across the three days of swimming. The combination of Schumacher, Luna, Manchester, and Crigler took the 25th spot in both the 800 and 200 freestyle relays. The Crimson’s best finish of the day came in the 400 medley relay in which the team claimed 22nd place.
Though it failed to crack the top 20 in any of the swimming events, Tyrell said that the chance to compete at a national level gave the Crimson experience that will aid the squad significantly next season.
“In order to get better ourselves we need to compete against people who are better than us,” Tyrrell said. “The challenge of coming here is good for this year, but more importantly it really sets us up for next year to be successful within the Ivy League.”
The experience was especially beneficial for the two freshmen—Ronda and Manchester. With three seasons left to compete for Harvard and thus three more opportunities to make it to the NCAA Championship meet, Tyrell hopes that the experience of competing in Texas will allow the pair to improve drastically next year.
“The two freshman…now can see and understand what the whole season looks like versus [this past] year when they [came] in and [didn’t] really have an understanding of it,” Tyrrell said. “They can help lead the program, not only by swimming fast, but they can really give some perspective to all the other swimmers, including the incoming freshmen.”
Coming off of a season in which the Crimson captured both the dual meet and Ivy League titles, it was fitting for Harvard to end the year with NCAA success. With five of the six athletes who competed returning next year, the team is hungry to continue its success in the pool and on the board.
—Staff writer Theresa C. Hebert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.