March 12, 2008
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - MIT men's swimming and diving will be looking to make history next weekend as the Engineers position themselves for the program's best finish ever at the NCAA Championships behind a strong medley relay and three top-five seeds.
Freshman Michael Dobson will shoulder the heaviest load for MIT in making his first appearance at nationals. The distance phenom qualified for NCAAs in three individual events, and will also play a factor if the Engineers compete in any of the freestyle relays. Dobson produced the fifth-fastest times in the nation in both the 500 (4:32.93) and 1650 (15:46.70) freestyle. Dobson will also be making a run in the 200-yard free, where he's seeded 17th with a time of 1:41.78.
Dobson won't be the only MIT athlete in the 200 free, or its only freshman. Rookie Laurent Charpentier just missed qualifying in the 100, although he delivered the 13th-best time for Division III in the 200 behind a clip of 1:41.54.
MIT hopes to secure big points from sophomore star Rastislav Racz. Seeded fifth in the 100 breast (56.40) and 12th in the 200 breast (2:05.22), Racz picked up a pair of sixth-place finishes and four All-America honors at the NCAA Championships last year.
While the individual events could power the Engineers beyond its tremendous 11th-place ranking at nationals last season, performing well in the relays will be crucial for the Cardinal and Gray. The 200 medley relay appears to be MIT's best chance at All-America recognition. Ignited in the backstroke by Jeff Zhou and capped by Racz, Charpentier and Luke Cummings, the Engineers are seeded ninth with a time of 1:32.98. The same group could make a significant impact in the standings of the 400 medley relay, despite a low seed, while Dobson would team with Zhou, Charpentier and Cummings in the free relays.
The 2008 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships will run from March 20-22 at Oxford, Ohio.