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CMS Swim and Dive team celebration

CMS Men's Swimming and Diving Earns SCIAC Championship By Just 14 Points in Exciting Sunday Finish

COMMERCE, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's swimming and diving team took a narrow lead into the final day of the SCIAC Championships and held on thanks to a large volume of finals qualifiers, edging Pomona-Pitzer by just 14 points (1078-1064) over the four-day meet at the Brenda Villa Aquatic Center.

CMS last won the title in 2017 by just eight points, and had come in second to Pomona-Pitzer in each of the last two seasons. This year, though, the Stags were able to win the dual meet over the Sagehens in the regular season and came through again in the SCIAC Championships to earn back the team title. 

It was the depth of CMS that proved to be the difference, as the Stags won just two swimming events all weekend, opening up the tournament with a SCIAC record in the 200-yard medley relay, and then seeing junior Marco Conati repeat as champion in the 100 fly on Saturday. Senior Kendall Hollimon swept the two diving events last weekend on his way to earning SCIAC Diver of the Year honors, giving the Stags four individual race/event championships out of 20. 

"Our team is deep and we knew that coming into this meet," said senior Dave Makhervaks. "We knew that we were going to have to put our heart into it. We came in at the beginning of every session cheering louder than everybody else. Our goal was to support each other more so than any of the other teams, and that's exactly what we did, and that's what we had to do to get things done."

Sunday's final day saw CMS earn five All-SCIAC honors in individual events for top-three finishes. Senior Ben Culberson started the day off with a third-place finish in the 1650, earning a time of 15:47.19. Sophomore Matthew Waddell also reached the finals and finished ninth, while junior Kyrellos Ibrahim won the consolation heat to come in 10th place. 

The 200-yard backstroke saw first-year Anderson Breazeale come through with a second-place performance in 1:47.51 for 19 points, while moving him into second place behind Matt Williams on the all-time Stag list. Sophomore Nick Tan, junior Will Grassle and Makhervaks all reached the finals as well and came in sixth through eighth to give the Stags 42 more points. 

Conati earned his way back on to the podium for a second time with a third-place finish in the 100 free, to go along with his championship in the 100 fly. Junior Andreas Roeseler also qualified for the finals and came in sixth. 

The 200-yard breastsroke, meanwhile, saw CMS rack up the points with five of the top seven finishers. Junior Sean Hoerger earned All-SCIAC honors with a second-place finish in 2:03.19, followed closely by senior Henry Limm in third with 2:03.73, who earned his way onto the podium as well. Senior Sam Willett was fifth, sophomore Walter Limm sixth, and first-year Alec Vercruysse seventh, as CMS outscored Pomona-Pitzer 82-30 in an event that made an enormous difference in the final standings. 

First-year Ben Smith (fourth), Waddell (seventh) and first-year Thayer Breazeale (eighth) reached the finals in the 200 fly in the final individual event of the competition, and CMS went into the final relay with a 24-point lead. The 400-yard freestyle relay team knew the only thing that could keep them from the title was a disqualification, so the team of Anderson Breazeale, Conati, first-year Nathan Luis and Roeseler were content with a third-place finish in 3:03.78, which left them winners by a 14-point margin. 

The Stags also shared their championship with the Athenas, as both halves of the SCIAC Swimming and Diving program emerged with a SCIAC Championship sweep for the first time since 2017. 

"It means the world to us," said Makhervaks of his senior class who won back the title in their final seasons. "Freshman year was another close one, and we had a few outstanding swimmers like Matt Williams who helped lead us to victory. This year our motto was "Earn It" and that's what happened. All of us came together and we pulled through, every single swim counted. It was another nail-biter, but at the end of the day, it was all worth it."

Several CMS swimmers and divers will continue on to the NCAA Championships next month in Greensboro, N.C., where Hollimon and Conati earned All-America honors a year ago.