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Record-breaker: Benson's splash paces Big Red

Two more New England marks from Andrew Benson '20 highlight Exeter's strong showing at Easterns.

By
Brian Muldoon
February 17, 2020
Phillips Exeter Academy Swimming Andrew Benson

Andrew Benson '20 has set records in six events this season, including three this past weekend at the Eastern Interscholastic Swimming Championships.

Andrew Benson '20 has been making and breaking records throughout his swimming season. A weekend at the Eastern Interscholastic Swimming Championships in Pennsylvania was no different.

The University of Wisconsin-bound senior broke the meet and school record in the 100 butterfly in the preliminary swims on Friday morning, before lowering those marks in the finals Friday night, touching at 47.65 to capture his first Eastern title. A day later, Benson captured his second crown by coming from behind in the final of the 100 breaststroke just hours after breaking his own New England record in the event in the preliminaries with a time of 55.00.

In between those title-clinching swims, Benson also helped the 200-medley relay team to a fourth-place finish and set a New England freestyle record with a 20.11 split in the leadoff leg of the 200 freestyle relay. The 200-medley team of Charlie Venci ’20, Georgie Venci ’22, Benson, and Yulian Ye ’21 shaved nearly two seconds off their preliminary time in the finals to capture fourth place with an All-American time of 1:32.72.

“Andrew was impressive,” said Exeter head coach Don Mills, “he showed some real resiliency and leadership. He was the favorite in both the breaststroke and the butterfly and he backed it up with strong swims. He was under the weather all weekend long, but he did not let that slow him down. As always, he was just as invested in his teammates performances as he was his own races.”

Benson’s three records set over the weekend add to his already impressive record-breaking list from this season as he had set New England records in the 100 breaststroke, 100 butterfly, 200 individual medley, 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle, in addition to school and pool records in the 200 freestyle.  

While Benson’s pair of titles certainly headlined Big Red’s efforts, he was not the only one setting records.

Charlie Venci snatched a school record in the 100 backstroke in the preliminary round with a time of 49.64 before shaving that down to 49.01 in the finals to claim second overall. Venci and winner Ben Eckerson of Pennington School were neck-and-neck down the stretch, but Eckerson edged out Venci by just 0.14 in a thrilling battle.

Ye ’21 also enjoyed a strong weekend as he claimed 13th overall in the 50 freestyle with a time of 21.85 and 16th in the 100 freestyle with a time of 47.99. Adam Tuchler ’21 placed 13th in the 100 breaststroke, touching at 59.50, and in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:57.00.

Exeter’s 400 freestyle relay team of Zach Quitkin ’23, Tuchler, Cooper Walshe ’21 and Aidan O’Brien ’21 finished 11th with a time of 3:15.42 in the consolation finals heat. Big Red placed 10th as a team in a field of 36 programs.

“I’m really proud of how the guys attacked the weekend,” Mills said. “This meet has some of the best swimmers in the country at it, and they proved that they belong. It was a fun weekend, a fun learning experience, and a performance that we hope to build on.”

Big Red will be back in the pool Feb. 26 when they travel to Andover before competing at the New England Championships on March 7-8.