Bomberger re-writes Navy record books
Of all days, Friday, Feb. 20 was the one that Dain Bomberger could least afford to not feel like himself.
Ever since missing the Navy and Patriot League 50 freestyle record (19.74) by the slimmest of margins – one-hundredth of a second – in a meet against Army in mid-December, the junior Mid was looking forward to the League Championships to get another shot at it.
When the day finally arrived, Bomberger, a 2011 Warwick High School grad, had a less-than-perfect morning swim in preparation for the big race.
“I actually didn’t swim that well and I was getting a little nervous,” Bomberger recalled.
Fortunately, he felt better that night.
A lot better.
In front of friends, his parents Doug and Kelly, and other family members at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., Bomberger touched the wall in the 50 free in 19.73 seconds, shattering the oldest current Navy, Lejeune Hall, Patriot League and Patriot League Championship Meet record (19.74), set 10 years ago by Noah White.
“I knew when I hit the wall that I was going to be really close and I kinda put my head down and kicked and pulled as hard as I could,” Bomberger recalled. “Everyone knew I was gunning for it, so I was really excited to get that.”
With a lot of his closest supporters cheering him on in Lejeune Hall, it stirred Bomberger’s emotions.
“They made the atmosphere a lot more electric,” Bomberger said. “Just having a lot of people screaming and stuff before my race really got me pumped up.”
That was just the start of what turned out to be a championship meet he will never forget.
Bomberger ended up winning an eye-popping six gold medals – two individuals and four relays – along with a sixth-place medal in the 200 free while helping the Midshipmen take the team crown with 945.5 points, easily ahead of runner-up Army (640.5). They have won the crown in each of their 11 seasons as members of the Patriot League.
“It was pretty awesome,” Bomberger said. “I went best times in all my events ever, so that was really good. My freshman and sophomore years really didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to when it came to swimming. It was just really hard adapting to it, so it was a relief when all the hard work finally paid off and I was definitely seeing times that I’ve always wanted to see. It was pretty exciting, for sure.”
“Excited” is certainly a great word to describe how Bomberger and his 400 medley relay teammates – Branden Walsh, Sean Murphy and Jonathan DeBaugh – felt eight days later after achieving the A-cut for the NCAA Division-One Championships at a second-chance meet.
After falling a little bit short of their goal at the Patriot League Championships, the foursome made good on its second chance at the ECAC Championships on Feb. 28, touching the wall in 3:09.84.
“We were about seven-tenths of a second short of getting the A-cut in the 400 medley relay (at the Patriot League Championships), so we just tried to maintain our taper throughout the week and then we just went for it again the ECAC’s,” Bomberger said. “We ended up beating the A-cut by a couple tenths and we dropped 1.1 seconds from our time from the Patriot, so it was good.”
Although qualifiers weren’t going to be officially released until after deadline, the speculation is that for the first time since 2004, Navy will have a relay qualifier for the NCAA Championships, to be hosted by the University of Texas at Austin from March 27-29. Bomberger, Walsh, Murphy and DeBaugh are now hoping to carry their momentum with them to the Lone Star State in three weeks.
“I think that we have a pretty good chance of maybe even getting in the B-final,” Bomberger said. “When it comes to the NCAA’s, it’s really a big crapshoot with people just coming off their taper and how they hold taper and all that. We’re right in the mix with it all. Being top 16 would be just phenomenal. It’s going to be pretty crazy swimming the fastest kids. I’m really excited.”
Navy assistant Mark Liscinsky, a first-year sprints coach for the Midshipmen, gets a lot of credit from Bomberger for helping him drop his times this year. Time will tell how things progress going forward, but the former Warwick star is looking forward to his senior year.
“Just working with (coach Liscinsky), he really turned my stroke around and he’s been doing really good things,” Bomberger said. “I’m excited for next year already. I’m really hoping that I can continue to the drops that I was getting this year and get on the national level and maybe top 16 in the country next year individually.”
Bruce Morgan is the sports editor for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 721-4451.
by Bruce Morgan