COMMERCE, Calif. (Dec. 14, 2014) – The Men's 400 Free Relay team of freshman Henry Baer (Lafayette, Calif. / Acalanes), sophomore Chris Bradley (Half Moon Bay, Calif. / Serra) and juniors Kevin Yu (Seattle, Wash. / Lakeside) and Patric Eck (Fullerton, Calif. / Troy) smashed a 33-year-old program record as the Caltech men's swimming and diving team competed at the three-day Collegiate Winter Invite in Commerce, Calif. this past weekend.
"We knew breaking the record was a possibility coming in, and we were all really excited to actually see it fall," Head Coach Jack Leavitt said. "We also just missed another relay record. We were very consistent throughout the meet, and that's going to go a long way toward the end of the season."
Senior C.J. Culpepper (Leonardtown, Md. / Leonardtown) and freshman Avikar Periwal (Potomac, Md. / Montgomery Blair) opened the Friday night session placing seventh and eighth in the 1650 Free, with junior Galen Gao (Irving, Texas / St. Mark's School) competing in the 400 IM and, but the highlight of the night was the 200 Free Relay. Eck, freshman Eric Lin (Potomac, Md. / Montgomery Blair), Yu and Baer just missed the 33-year-old program record of 1:30.12, coming in at 1:30.31 to send the Beavers home with momentum to carry into the next day.
The Saturday session began with Yu placing 22nd in the 100 Fly, taking it out in a heat-leading 24.72 and holding on to finish second in the 10-man heat while senior Matthew Lappin (Westminster, Md. / Westminster) finished 29th. Eck followed up by dropping a second off his prelim time to finish 22nd in the 200 Free, with Bradley placing 27th in the same race.
Lin broke out in the next event, shaving a full five seconds off his 200 IM time behind a heat-best 50 Back split to place 12th in 2:03.23, with Gao coming in 17th. Baer and Eck then placed 13th and 22nd in the 50 Free, and Baer came right back with an eighth-place finish in the 100 Back as Lappin and Culpepper came in 17th and 19th.
Lin kept the momentum going with a 16th-place finish in the 100 Breast, with the rookie dropping nearly two seconds to post a 1:03.84 in the final after just making the second finals heat by .22. Yu struggled in the prelim session but still managed to qualify for finals, where he exploded for a 1:03.77, over three seconds better than his time in the season opener less than two weeks prior. Junior Matthew Cedeno (Virginia Beach, Calif. / Ocean Lakes) was Caltech's third scorer in the event, placing 30th.
The Sunday slate of events began with the 400 Medley Relay, with the team of Baer, Lin, Yu and Eck placing 10th in a 3:44.77, just five seconds off the program record, and the "B" relay of Culpepper, Cedeno, Lappin and freshman Richard May (Guilford, Conn. / Choate Rosemary Hall) finishing 17th. The Beavers got three scorers in the 500 Free, with Bradley, Culpepper and Periwal finishing 17th, 19th and 21st, and had two more in Lappin (16th) and Gao (18th) in the 200 Back, with Gao shaving three seconds off his personal-best time in the prelims and another two in the finals.
The 100 Free was the Beavers' highlight to that point in the meet, netting a total haul of 89 points. Baer slapped down a blazing 48.03 in the prelims and showed it was no fluke with a 48.40 in the night session, placing fifth overall. Caltech built on Baer's finish as Eck, Yu and Lin came in 16th, 17th and 19th in the second finals heat and Bradley, Culpepper and May rounded out the scoring in 23rd, 29th and 30th place, respectively. With momentum continuing to build on the Caltech bench, Cedeno, Gao and freshman Alexander Bourzutschky (Potomac, Md. / Montgomery Blair) closed out the Beavers' individual competition placing 15th, 16th and 18th, respectively, in the 200 Breast.
In the final event of the meet, the 400 Free Relay team delivered on the promise that the Beavers had been building all weekend. Baer recorded his third 48-second 100 (48.39) of the day as the leadoff man, handing it off to Bradley, who swam a lifetime-best 50.06, including a breakneck 23.08 first 50. Yu posted a 49.94 in the third leg and Eck anchored with a 49.18, touching the wall at a combined 3:17.57 and breaking the 33-year-old record of 3:19.95 by well over two seconds.
The Beavers placed seventh of eight teams at the meet with 809.5 points, not far behind the University of Redlands and the University of La Verne at 949 and 979, respectively.
"We didn't have a ton of personal-best times, but we did have a lot of season-bests," Leavitt said. "We set ourselves up for a great rest of the season."
Leavitt and the Beavers will enjoy a month-long respite over the Winter Recess before returning to the pool for a tri-meet with La Verne at Pomona-Pitzer Colleges on Saturday, Jan. 10.