Belowich leads swim team to victory, garners award

Coming off a record season for both individuals, and the team, the CMU men sent 10 swimmers to the national tournament in St. Louis on the 18th and 19th of March, and came home with a record-breaking third-place finish behind perennial powerhouse Kenyon, who took home their 25th consecutive Division III National Title, and UAA rival Emory.
Leading the way in the drive to CMU?s best finish ever was senior and UAA Swimmer of the Year, Brian McCarthy, who not only finished first in the 400 IM, but set a national record by doing so in 3:53.99, en route to earning six All-American accolades.
?It felt incredible,? said McCarthy of his national time, ?It was a great way to end my career as a CMU swimmer.?
Joining McCarthy on the champion?s pedestal was junior standout Chris Pearson, who touched first in the 200 freestyle with a school record time of 1:37.70 and took home seven All-American notations. Swimming strong with CMU?s leading duo was senior Brian Jucha, who also took home seven All-American honors for his work on three All-American relays with McCarthy and Pearson, including second places finishes in both the 200 Medley and 400 Freestyle, and a fifth place finish in the 400 Medley.
As has been the team?s pattern throughout the season, however, it wasn?t just the individual stars that contributed to their final placement. Sophomore Brian Hunter was the fourth man on the 200 Medley team, and senior Brian Belowich helped the 400 Medley team.
Sophomore Evan Powell, Pearson, McCarthy and Jucha swam the 400 Freestyle, and Powell, McCarthy and Jucha swam with grad student Derek Underwood for a fifth place in the 200 Freestyle. Senior Steve Clifford and junior Kevin Paavola joined Hunter and Pearson in the 5th place 800 Freestyle relay. All of these finishes earned All-American honors for the participants, and gave the team critical points in the final placement.
Also scoring points was first-year, and future leader of CMU swimming according to his coach, David Krzeminski who had a good showing in his first national tournament. Of the ten swimmers the team sent to St. Louis, every single one of them scored on the national stage.
The team was led, however, not only by performance in the pool, but on the sidelines as well. In his 9th year as head coach of CMU Varsity Swimming, David Belowich was named the 2004 Division III Coach of the Year by his peers as a result of CMU?s accomplishments this season, and their national finish.
?The year itself was great; the crowning achievement was the job everyone did at nationals. The guys were the best they?ve been all season long,? said coach Belowich.
Belowich enjoyed his best season as CMU?s head coach this year, watching his senior leaders, including his son and co-captain Brian Belowich, win meet after meet on the road to an incredible finale. With both father and son assuming leadership roles at the meet as coach and captain, the pair ended four years of working together in the pool with what one would imagine to be a very gratifying finish.
Coach Belowich, who had seen success before when he coached the Pitt women?s team to Big East titles before coming to CMU, called the Coach of the Year Award a tribute to the team?s dedication, hard-work, and deserving success on the national level.
?I?m very honored, and very humbled as the National Coach of the Year. When it is your peers who give you the award, it is very humbling,? he said about the accomplishment.
Belowich has taken a group of talented swimmers, and brought them together as a team, encouraging them to not only join together in the water, but outside of swimming as well.
He has preached success in athletics and academics, as both the men?s and women?s squads have been Academic All-American teams for the last 13 semesters, a difficult feat at Carnegie Mellon University.
With last weekend?s pinnacle achievement of his CMU tenure, Belowich saw the results of the work both he and his swimmers have put in, not only this season, but over the past four years of successful swimming.
While athletics may never see the same passion as academics from CMU students, the achievements of coach Belowich and his third ranked Division III National Men?s Varsity Swim team is one of the highest accomplishments at the college this year, and is worthy of note.