Calvin Men’s Swimming and Diving Wins First-Ever MIAA Title
Sunday, February 16, 2014
By Mark DeHaan
The Calvin men’s swim and dive team entered the fourth and final day of the MIAA Championships looking for its first conference title in program history at Calvin’s Venema Aquatic Center. At the conclusion of the day, Calvin accomplished its long sought-after goal, winning the MIAA title with a first place score of 795 points with Hope second with 669 points.
The Knight men have participated in MIAA swimming for 44 years, but have yet to win a league championship. Heading into Saturday, the Knights held a 107 point advantage over Hope and were well on their way to making history.
After sweeping the events on Friday, Calvin picked up right where it left off. The first event of the final day was the 1650 freestyle, and sophomores Caleb Meindertsma and Aaron Venema earned the 1-2 finish for the Knights. Meindertsma won in a Calvin record time of 15:58.55, beating his own record and also repeating as MIAA champion, while Venema finished second in 16:19.10.
In the 200 backstroke, senior Andrew Mitchell continued his strong conference meet with a third-place finish in 1:53.64, setting a school record.
The 800 freestyle saw the Knights placed eighth as junior Alex Baumann posted a time of 47.39. Sophomore Brandon Muma took first in the consolation final for Calvin.
Sophomore Johnson Cochran earned his second individual title in the next event, the 200 breaststroke, as he finished in another school record of 2:03.19.
In the 200 butterfly, freshman Brett Stoughton also won his second individual title of the meet, taking first in 1:53.70.
The swimmers then took a break as the men performed the 3-meter diving. Freshman Dirk Tanis took fourth with a total of 321.25 points while freshman Ian Krug finished eighth with 214.60 points.
In the final event of the night, with the meet all but wrapped up, the Calvin men’s relay team of Mitchell, Venema, Muma, and Baumann took second in the 400 freestyle in a time of 3:05.14.
With the impressive night, Calvin claimed the first conference championship in men’s swim and dive history. The Knights finished with 795 points while second-place Hope had 669. Kalamazoo earned a close third with 653.5 while Albion was fourth with 594. Completing the standings was Olivet in fifth with 314 points while Alma finished sixth with 188.5.
At the end of the night, Albion’s Brian Fiorillo, who has seven individual titles in his collegiate career, was named Most Valuable Swimmer, while Kalamazoo’s Elliot Littman won Most Valuable Diver.
“The last two classes of guys that have come in have bought in from day one,” said senior Peter Johnson. “The finished product that we put together is beyond my wildest dreams. We just swam unbelievably well.”
“The goal was always to get to the top, but to do it in our own pool, with both teams doing it at the same time, for the first and tenth time – it was a special weekend,” said head coach Dan Gelderloos. “Without good teammates and good relationships, you don’t have anything to stand on or fight for. When it comes down to that last 25, you have to have something to fight for and know how to execute it. I couldn’t be more proud of the team. I think we lost only three individual swimming races the entire weekend, so it was lights out all the way across the board. To finally get to the top, no words can describe it.”