When it mattered most this winter season, Greenwich High School alumnus Tyler Tambascio kicked it in high gear for the Keene State College men’s swimming and diving team last weekend.
During the third and final day of the New England Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Association Championships, which was held at the Upper Valley Aquatics Center in White River Junction, Vt., Tambascio competed in the most hotly contested events of the day and came up golden, helping the Owls claim the swim portion of the 2013 NEISDA Championships.
“Everything went really well for me this year,” Tambascio said. “I beat my times and I went under a minute in the 100-yard breaststroke, which was a goal of mine for a while now. I was also able to get first at a big meet, so that was great.”
Competing in the 200-yard breaststroke, Tambascio, a junior at KSC, wasn’t sure what to expect in the event. His preliminary time of 2:18.08 had him seeded fifth in the finals of the event.
However, when the championship heat got under way, Tambascio dominated the competition. Touching the wall in 28.78 seconds in the first 50 yards and leading the way with a time of 1:01.43 midway through the race, Tambascio didn’t let up. Not only did his final time of 2:08.98 crush his preliminary time by nearly 10 seconds, but he was also the first swimmer to touch the wall.
“It was very surprising for me because I wasn’t really expecting to win,” Tambascio said. “I went 10 seconds faster and that was really exciting. I really worked on my underwater swimming. My pull-outs were long and smooth. I wanted to make sure every stroke was powerful. I couldn’t be happier.”
His top time helped Keene State net 20 points and was a key contribution to the team’s successful third day in the pool. The Owls crushed the competition overall in the three-day event, netting 1,003.5 points. The next closest team was Roger Williams University, which finished second with 693 points.
“He had a great meet and had some real breakthrough swims,” said Jack Fabian, Keene State College men’s swimming coach. “Winning the 200-yard breaststroke was great. His mind-set this year has been great. He’s always worked hard, like everybody else, but he also had some additional confidence this year and it showed. I noticed that a couple of days before the meet, I asked the kids to come in and work out on their own. In the past, I probably would have called him to remind him to come in. But he was the first one in early in the morning this time to do the workouts. He had a different type of focus this time around.”
Earlier in the tournament, Tambascio also finished with the gold.
As a member of the 200-yard medley relay team, his foursome took first place overall with a time of 1:34.83 and was nearly two seconds better than Roger Williams.
Tambascio also found his way to the podium in the 100-yard breaststroke event, as the junior took the bronze with a time of 59.73 and was one of three Owls to finish in the top four.
The former Greenwich High School swimmer started the NEISDA championship meet in style, as he took to the pool during the 50-yard breaststroke and came up third overall with a time of 27.58.
In all four of the events Tambascio was a part of, he not only improved on his preliminary time but also contributed a total of 92 points to the school’s victory.
“He’s dropped a lot of time, both in the 200 breaststroke and in other events,” Fabian said. “His first year he wasn’t a part of the scoring team in the conference meet. His next year he was on the scoring team and this year he’s winning events. The progression is great. He went from being on the outside being a player to being one of the top performers on the team.”
With his season-ending performance in the NEISDA, Fabian is looking forward to what his senior year could possibly bring.
“With his potential and what he’s done, if he puts the work in, he has a chance of making the NCAA meet, and that is the crowning achievement for anybody in the sport,” Fabian said. “He’s a natural athlete and likes to race. He’s lean and strong. With Tyler, I don’t want to put a lot of expectations on top of him. I am hopeful he will rise up to the occasion and take it upon himself, just like he did this year where he decided that he wants this.”
“In the offseason I’m going to work in the gym, lift as much as I can and get in the pool as much as possible,” Tambascio said. “I’m going to also try and join a club team in the summer so I could stay in shape. I want to work on my pullouts.”