This past weekend, the Yale men’s swim team competed in the 2004 ECAC Championship at the Trees Pool in Pittsburgh. Consisting mostly of underclassmen, the Bulldog team (9-3, 7-2 EISL) had some solid performances against some of the best swimmers in the region, finishing eighth overall out of the 29 competing schools.

Johns Hopkins University took the title with a score of 437.50 points. The Elis finished the three-day meet with 251 points. Columbia was the only other Ivy school to compete, finishing third with a score of 377.

Yale rookie Ben Dzialo ’07 was the star for the Bulldogs, as he got second in the 100-yard and third in the 200-yard butterfly. In the 100-yard butterfly, Dzialo was 0.6 of a second slower than Trevor Stone of Binghamton University and Johnny Hessler of Columbia at the 50-yard mark, but came back in the second lap to earn an equal second place with Hessler in 50.87 seconds.

“Overall I think the meet went well.” Dzialo said. “Most of us had one event that we were told to focus on. I think I did well in my butterfly. I gave myself high goals, and considering the fact that I was close to them is enough to make me smile.”

Dzialo’s fine form continued in the 200-yard butterfly, and he was neck and neck with Geza Szabo of UMBC and Bobby DeSandre of Rider the whole race. The Eli finished third with a time of 1:51.87. There was less than 0.2 of a second that separated the top three swimmers. Yale veteran Thomas Lopez ’05 also made the final and finished seventh with a time of 1:54.13.

The Bulldogs also produced some solid results in long distance events. Two Elis — Mark Fisher ’07 and Brendan Everman ’06 — made the finals of the 1,650-yard freestyle. Fisher finished third with a time of 16:04.32, while teammate Everman finished fifth with a time of 16:14.68. Teammate Jack Hutchinson ’07 finished third in the second final, swimming a personal best time of 16:26.26.

“My first season with the Bulldogs has been incredible,” Fisher said. “I feel the program has helped me to understand swimming so much better. Swimming is so addictive, and I can’t wait to get back into the pool next season.”

For those swimmers who competed last weekend, ECAC marked the conclusion of their 2003-04 swimming season. When asked to reflect on his first season with the Bulldogs, Hutchinson admitted that it was a lot of hard work.

“We did pretty well [this season]” Hutchinson said, “A lot of the guys have been swimming personal best times. [The ECAC] marked a milestone for us, but we have worked very hard for it.”

Hutchinson had to work hard just to get through ECAC. He represented the Elis and swam personal bests in the 200-, 500- and 1,650-yard freestyle events. Together with his rookie teammates, they will look to contribute more of the team’s success in years to come.

While the younger swimmers are ready for spring break, the top 17 swimmers are not yet done for the season. For the last three weeks, they have been preparing for this year’s EISL Championship, to be held at Princeton this coming weekend. The Bulldogs lost the HYP earlier this season and came third in this the EISL Championship last year. Elis said they are eager to do better this time.