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Men’s swimming and diving takes fifth in Ivy League Championships

Jack Kelly ’25 takes home first Bruno gold in 100-yard breaststroke, sets Ivy League record

<p>Jack Kelly ’25 leads Bruno to fifth place with a number of stunning individual victories. </p><p>Courtesy of Brown Athletics</p>

Jack Kelly ’25 leads Bruno to fifth place with a number of stunning individual victories.

Courtesy of Brown Athletics

Last week, the men’s swimming and diving team took home fifth in the Ivy League Championships at Harvard. Despite the Bears’ bottom-half finish, the weekend saw several record-breaking times for Bruno. 

After a disappointing Wednesday for the team — with the 200-yard medley relay finishing seventh and the 800-yard freestyle relay finishing eighth — the Bears looked to reverse their luck in the upcoming individual events. 

Thursday’s races opened up in a huge way for Bruno. During the prelims, in the fourth heat of five, Andrew Berzolla ’24 broke a program record for the 500-yard freestyle, finishing in 4 minutes, 20.17 seconds. He was only 0.63 seconds slower during his finals time, earning him a seventh-place finish overall. 

“Breaking the 500 freestyle record was an incredible moment,” Berzolla wrote in a message to The Herald. “Seeing the reactions of my coaches and teammates immediately put a smile on my face before I even knew what my time was.”

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Along with Berzolla, Jack Kelly ’25 played a pivotal role in the Bruno team’s successes. The same day, Kelly broke his own program record for the 200-yard individual medley — resetting his time to beat at 1 minute, 44.03 seconds. Kelly’s program record earned him a fourth-place finish overall, barely missing the podium. 

“For three years (Kelly) has been an absolute pleasure to coach, not only because of his work ethic and the way he competes but the way he treats his teammates and coaches,” Head Coach Kevin Norman wrote in an email to The Herald. “He came into the season with big goals and expectations but also puts 100% trust into the coaches and the work we do. His mentality going into any meet is that he is going to beat you, and that was the way he approached Ivy Championships.”

Racing alongside Kelly was fellow “IM-er” Harrison Powe ’25 who took eighth in the A final.

The rest of Thursday passed without many notable events for the Bears. No member of the Bruno team participated in the A finals for the 50-yard freestyle, but Marcus Lee ’25 earned 17 points placing 10th overall in the B finals — the finals which hosted swimmers who placed 9th to 16th in the prelims.

The Bears’ relay teams continued to struggle on Thursday with the 200-yard freestyle relay unit unable to come up better than a sixth-place finish. 

“The relays at this meet were extremely tight, with very little separation between several teams. Unfortunately, we did not get those close touches,” Norman wrote. “One thing going into championships that we stressed was being conservative on our relay exchanges because disqualifying a relay can cost you so many points and potentially spots in the final standings.”

Norman added that the team may have been “too conservative” when aiming to prevent disqualifications because “those exchanges add up over the course of the relay” and “can be the difference” between places.

He also noted that three of the four swimmers on the day’s sprint freestyle relays were making their Ivy League Championships debuts. “With the young talent on those relays I expect them to stay together, learn from this experience and be a much bigger factor next year and beyond,” he wrote.

At the end of the day, the Bears saw their first podium finish of the event. Roland Lawver ’26 achieved a second-place finish in the one-meter diving event, bringing home silver for Bruno. 

Friday opened up with the 1000-yard freestyle, with Berzolla and Aidan Wilson ’24 placing fifth and eighth, respectively, for a cumulative 47 points for the Bears. 

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“Being a distance freestyler can be tough and unforgiving, but I’m so grateful to have been a part of this distance group over my four years,” Berzolla wrote. “We constantly push one another in practice and through some really challenging workouts. That hard work and camaraderie puts us in a position to succeed in big races.”

The Bears ghosted out of the A finals for most of Friday until the fateful 100-yard breaststroke. Kelly and Powe were once again pitted against each other in the A final — this time Kelly beat not only his teammate but every single racer, notching a gold medal for Brown for the first time in a decade. This win wasn’t just a huge gold for Brown’s program: Kelly also set a pool, program and Ivy League record with his blazing time of 51.58 seconds in the prelims.

Kelly “had already checked so many boxes in his first two seasons, from school records to qualifying for NCAAs and Olympic trials, but the one thing he hadn't done until this weekend was win an individual Ivy title,” Norman wrote. 

“Three of the best breaststrokers to ever swim in the Ivy League are in (Kelly’s) class: He's had his hands full with Penn’s Matt Fallon and Columbia’s Demirkan Demir, and he fell just short last year of a title, getting edged out at the wall by Demir in both races,” he added. “I know that really drove him all year and heading into Ivy Championships. Seeing him win that 100 on Friday night was one of the highlights of my career because I know how much it meant to him and his teammates.”

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Despite another low-ranking relay finish in the 400-yard medley relay, Zach Le-Nguyen ’25, Kelly, Tucker Peterson ’26 and Lee’s time of 3 minutes, 11.00 seconds broke another program record.

The Bears went out with a splash on Saturday. Kelly managed a second-place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 1 minute, 51.63 seconds — the ninth-fastest time in the country. Wilson and Berzolla faced off once again in the 1650, managing to notch two NCAA qualifying times and with Wilson taking home second overall. Lee placed fifth in the 100 freestyle and Lawver took home fourth in the three-meter dive.

“The Ivy League is fiercely competitive, so we knew we were going to have to swim many tough races throughout the meet,” Berzolla wrote. “But, as a program, we pride ourselves on the work that we put in throughout the season so that when those tough moments came, we were prepared.”

All in all, the Bears concluded their season with a fifth-place finish at the Ivy League Championships and now look forward to an exciting 2024-25 season.

“I am very optimistic heading into next season. Our 2027 class is very talented, and if you were to look at results throughout the year, not just Ivy Championships, you would see that they have contributed to our team in a huge way,” Norman wrote. “I know a few of them did not have the championship performances they were hoping to have, but that comes with experience. There is a lot of learning that goes on in that first season, on both sides.”

Just two days out of the championships, Norman and the rest of the coaching staff have already begun working on training plans for next season. “We are also very excited about the class we have coming in next year. It's a big group with a lot of talent and versatility that can cover a lot of ground for us,” he wrote.


Dennis Carey

Dennis Carey is a Sports Editor who enjoys playing volleyball, listening to and collecting vinyl records, and poorly playing the guitar in his spare time.



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