PASADENA (Nov. 6, 2019) – The Caltech men's swimming & diving team is primed for another strong season, loaded with perhaps its deepest roster to date.
The Beavers, coming off a sixth-place team finish at SCIAC's, produced a pair of SCIAC champions and national qualifiers this past season and will be looking for similar results in 2019-20. With three-time national qualifier Thomas Gallup (Houston, Texas / Phillips Exeter Academy) training overseas in hopes of qualifying for Tokyo 2020, Caltech will have to produce a new national qualifier if the hope is to make it four consecutive national championship appearances for the men's team. Luckily, this year's team just might have the talent to do it.
Caltech will be led by junior program record holders and 2019 SCIAC finalists Andy Rothstein (Potomac, Md. / Winston Churchill) and Adam Kogan (Clifton Park, N.Y. / Shenendehowa East). Rothstein holds the school 100 Back record while Kogan, more of a distance freestyler holds the top program times in the 500, 1000 and 1650 Free. Both are also expected to once again factor in on the relay teams with each swimmer currently tied to a pair of relay records. It is no coincidence that both captains have been lauded for their commitment to process-oriented practice goals, which could signify career years in store for each of them.
"We place a lot of emphasis on the process of getting to where we want to be as opposed to the destination," Head Coach Andy Brabson said. "We are always evaluating what we can do in practice to make ourselves better, build the environment we want and I think long term goals can take care of themselves as long as we keep the focus on the day-to-day."
The returning group will get to train with a talented freshman class with several incoming men already on the cusp of various school records and NCAA cuts. Freshman George Wythes (Solana Beach, Calif. / Torrey Pines) is an extremely versatile swimmer and will have a chance to factor in with the conference elite in his rookie season. His top swims in the 100 Free, 200 Free, 500 Free, 100 Back, 200 Back, and 100 Fly already rank highly in school history and his progress will be worth monitoring. The same can be said for classmate Shoonhsin Li (Horseheads, N.Y. / Horseheads), who carries with him a 200 Fly time that is close to three seconds faster than the current school record left behind by departing senior Henry Steiner '19. Time will tell if Li can claim the 200 Fly record for himself, but he is another versatile swimmer who should also provide Brabson and his staff more options in the relay events. Freshman Joshua Lee (Santa Clarita, Calif. / Valencia), meanwhile will be within immediate striking distance of the 200 IM record while Reid Banciella (Miami, Fla. / MAST Academy) will have the chance to be an impact player in the sprint freestyle and fly events. Other newcomers, such as Nathan McAlister (Reno, Nev. / Davidson Academy), Daniel Nee (Wayland, Mass. / Wayland) and Isaac Smith (Tuscaloosa, Ala. / Northridge) could be counted on almost immediately given their high school pedigrees, while other newcomers such as Eitan Rapaport (Miami, Fla. / MAST Academy) Krish Mehta (Mumbai, India / Dhirubhai Ambani) and men's water polo player Juan Arvelo (Miami, Fla. / Riviera Preparatory School), while raw, will have a chance to develop into contributors down the line.
The men's team's depth will be supplemented by other key returners such as Timothy Yao (Thousand Oaks, Calif. / Dougherty Valley), JD Walker (Grand Blanc, Mich. / Grand Blanc), Jeffery Ma (San Jose, Calif. / Bellarmine College Prep), Thomas Barrett (Chatham, N.J. / Chatham) and Rafael Santiago (Manila, Philippines / Phillipine Science). Each member of the returning group competed at last year's SCIAC Championships and will stand to gain tremendously from a year of collegiate swimming experience. Yao, particularly will be worth watching, as he is currently a top-five program talent in the 100, 200 and 500 Free events, while Walker currently holds the second-fastest 100 Fly time, less than one second away from the school record. Men's water polo players Austin Harvard (Lake Forest, Calif. / El Toro) and Bradley Justice (El Cajon, Calif. / Grossmont) are also expected to return to the team upon completion of the fall season.
The bevy of options the Beavers will have in each event could lend itself to the team making good on one of its primary goals this season.
"Our aim is to have an 'A' finalist in every single event at SCIAC's this year," Brabson said. "I think it's achievable and it speaks to the depth we have on the men's side. We have anywhere from three or four guys in most events that can step up and contribute for us. This is the deepest team the program has had in quite some time."
Caltech is expected to have some representation on the boards this season with Daniel Contaldi (Orlando, Fla. / Trinity Preparatory School), a former track & field competitor at the high school level looking to make contributions on the diving end. Walker additionally gained some diving experience in dual meets last year, as the Beavers have the long-term goal of building a competitive diving program under Head Coach Ute Zimmerman.
With exciting competitors up and down the lineup, the men's swimming & diving team appears to be in a position to post one of its best seasons to date, and perhaps its best ever if the team can continue to progress. Proper utilization of practice time will be paramount as the Beavers look to reach their checkpoints as the season transpires.
Brabson and the Beavers will begin their season at home against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 10:00 a.m.