Gill is backstroke champ for Conn, Benvenuti top coach

Middletown - Junior Sam Gill had an impressive weekend as the Connecticut College men's swimming and diving team had its best showing in the history of the New England Small College Athletic Conference Championship meet at Wesleyan University.

The Camels finished third with 1,098 points, both program bests, and Marc Benvenuti was NESCAC Coach of the Year for the first time (the Waterford High grad has won a similar honor in women's swimming three times).

Williams College won its 11th straight conference title with 1,936.5 points while Amherst was second with 1,824.5. Conn finished 18 points ahead of Tufts. The meet concluded Sunday night.

Gill won the 100-yard backstroke on Saturday, setting a Wesleyan pool record in 49.44 seconds and earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championships, which will be held March 20-23 in Shenandoah, Texas.

Gill also qualified for nationals in the 100 butterfly after placing second in 48.79, and he earned a provisional spot in the nationals in the 100 free after placing third in 45.66.

In addition, Gill was part of four relay teams that placed in the NESCAC meet. The 200 freestyle relay team of Gill, Patrick McGinnis, Drew Andre' and Cam Johnson finished first in 1:22.7; the 200 medley relay team of Gill, Andre', Loring Bowen and Kirk Czelewicz finished second in 1:31.81; the 400 medley relay team of Bowen, Czelewicz, Gill and Andre' placed third in 3:23.54; and the 400 freestyle relay team of Bo Martin, Andre', McGinnis and Gill placed third in 3:05.61. The Camels earned national provisional qualifying marks in the 200 free relay, the 400 medley relay and the 200 medley relay.

Individually for Conn, Czelewicz was third in the 50 breaststroke (26.24), third in the 100 breast (57.39) and fourth in the 200 breast (2:06.03), provisionally qualfying for the NCAA meet in all three, while Andre' was third in the 50 free (21.06) and Bowen earned a provisional spot in the nationals after placing fifth in the 200 fly (1:52.09).


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