Ripple effect: Swimmers sink pool record board

Big Red stars Andrew Benson '20 and Sydney Kang '22 make waves at Nekton Pool.

Patrick Garrity
July 2, 2021

Jackson Carlberg '21 helps in the renovation of the record board at Roger Nekton Pool.

ANdrew BeNsoN ’20 and SydNey KaNg ’22 have broken so many Exeter swimming records, they’ve busted the record board.

The speedy pair own 24 pool, school and/or New England records between them. Their marks — and every other pool, school and New England prep school swimming and diving record — are meant to be reflected on the sprawling record board that hangs at the west end of Nekton Pool. The records date back to the school mark Malindi Davies ‘94 set in the girls 100-meter breaststroke 28 years ago. The record board itself? Even older.

At the end of each season, Kate D’Ambrosio, the aquatics manager at the pool, dutifully updates the board. But at the end of the 2019-20 swimming year, D’Ambrosio found herself with a problem. She’d run out of Ns.

Taking into account the first initial and full last name of each record-holder, Benson and Kang require 42 Ns. Benson alone, with his 18 records and multiple Ns, takes up 36. Thus, the shortage.

When D’Ambrosio went to find spare Ns, she instead discovered that the company that originally supplied the letters no longer makes them. That left the record board sorely out-of-date.

Now, the board is undergoing a makeover. Instead of individual letters and numbers spelling out a swimmer’s name, school and time and the year the record was set, that information will be emblazoned on placards. When a record is broken, a new placard will be printed — and the old placard can be given to the former record-holder.

The new method likely will be useful in the coming year; Kang has a season left. Her six school marks all were set away from Nekton Pool, and she has good shots at setting a handful of pool records before she heads off to Yale.

“I get motivated when a record is within my reach,” she said. Her coach often points out records she is close to days before the meet when deciding which events to enter. "I take aim at them.”

As for Benson, he has just completed a strong first year swimming at the University of Wisconsin. His assault on the Exeter record board is done. But the Benson family may just be getting started. Andrew has four younger siblings.

All are swimmers.