LaPorte claims fifth at Nationals
Matt Gad—Sports Writer
Junior Leo LaPorte, competing in Division II nationals for the second year in a row, finished fifth in the championship heat of the 200-meter butterfly with a personal- best time of one minute, 46 seconds and 72 milliseconds.
“I wanted to finish higher and go faster [than last year],” LaPorte said. “I also wanted to become an All-American in the 100-meter butterfly but that did not happen.”
LaPorte swam to a 26th place finish in the 100-fly trials and failed to qualify for the final heat. Last year at nationals, he was also fifth in the 200-fly finals with a time of one minute, 47 seconds and 21 milliseconds.
“He is one of only a few kids on the team that have the physical ability to make a national qualifying standard. He shows that he belongs,” coach Tim Quill said. “It was his lifetime-best by a full second and to do it at the meet is a good thing; you can obviously swim a fast time any time in the season but to do it at the big meet is where it matters.”
In a somewhat down season for both the men’s and women’s programs, which typically consistently compete for conference championships, LaPorte was one of multiple of individuals to come away with a really solid personal season.
“It is great to see him achieve his goals,” senior Drew Dantino said. “Swimming is really individualistic in the fact that it is an individual sport as well as a team sport, and although we did not achieve the goal we wanted as a team, I still think everyone did their part and what they could have done.”
The team also tried to get Avery Fornaciari and Max Prado in the meet, but they were unable to qualify after competing at the Last Chance Meet, hosted by New York University.
“Max swam his lifetime best by a full second but he had to swim another second faster,” Quill said. “But those are like quantum drops; if you think realistically you cannot be saying he is going to drop another two seconds.”
He also said that Fornaciari needed to swim a half-second faster and it “could have happened, but it did not.”
“You are actually lucky to have someone swim faster two weeks later,” Quill said. “At the conference meet there’s thousands of people going crazy but at the Last Chance Meet there’s nobody there – maybe a half dozen parents in the stands – because of the nature of that type of meet.”
The Last Chance Meet is where teams send members of their respective squads if they have not quite made the qualifying benchmark for the national meet but still think it is attainable to have them swim in one more meet and see if they can reach the desirable marks for Nationals.
It is also a meet Quill is considering hosting on campus at some point, which would mean he could throw in members of his own men’s and women’s teams to compete for fun in a post-NE10 Championship setting.
“We are thinking about doing it here for the future,” Quill said. “It is actually a pretty cool idea.”
Next year, LaPorte will be a senior and will also be try to qualify for his third consecutive Division II National Championship in a row, something that seems like an unprecedented opportunity for a lot of collegiate swimmers and divers.
“I get used to the feeling around me, the tension and how fast the kids are,” LaPorte said. “This year I felt more comfortable; it was definitely different than last year.”