When naming his captain for the upcoming season, Massachusetts men’s swimming head coach Russ Yarworth was looking for veteran savvy and experience to lead his squad. He found it in seniors Dan Backler, Adam Duffield and Brian Schmidt, who will be serving as co-captains for the upcoming season.
Backler, a native of Newburyport, Mass., is ranked third all-time at UMass in the 200- meter breaststroke and fifth all-time in the 100-meter breaststroke.
Last year, he won bronze at the Atlantic 10 Championships in the 200-meter breaststroke and added a fifth-place finish in the 100-meter breaststroke, pacing the Minutemen each time. He showed the ability to rise to the occasion when it counted, as he notched his best times of the season in these races.
In years’ past, Backler has been a steady performer for the Minutemen. Since he transferred to UMass in 2008-09 as a sophomore, he has never finished lower than ninth in any race. He has one gold medal to his name, in the 100-meter breaststroke at Boston College as a sophomore and four silver medals as well.
Adam Duffield, a native of Brookfield, Conn., ranks ninth all-time in UMass history in the three-meter dive. He won the silver medal at the A-10 Championships this past year with a combined score of 571.70, including a bronze medal finish in the three-meter dive. He scored 31 points overall for UMass during the meet.
Duffield has been excellent for UMass throughout his career as a member of the Minutemen. He’s never placed lower than sixth for the year and last season finished no lower than fourth.
He’s also an excellent performer in the classroom. A mechanical engineering major, Duffield has also been named to the A-10 Academic All-Conference Team each of the past two seasons.
Brian Schmidt, a native of Falmouth, Mass., pairs with Backler to represent UMass in the breaststroke. He tied Backler at the A-10 Championship for fifth-place in the 100-meter, as well as swimming the breast leg of the 400-meter medley relay team. That group won gold, repeating as champions for the second-straight season. The year before, Schmidt helped the medley team set a school record for the 400.
Schmidt burst onto the scene at UMass, notching two gold medals as a freshman. Both came at the BU Terrier Invitational, where Schmidt also placed second in the 200 individual medley and 400 individual medley and combined with the other members of the 400 medley relay team on a silver medal. Including medleys, Schmidt is a 13-time gold and 13-time silver medalist at UMass.
The Minutemen are looking at these three co-captains to lead them to a fifth-straight Atlantic 10 Championship. If they can pull it off, this would be the 13th conference championship ever for UMass men’s swimming. The hunt for another title begins Oct. 16 at Boston University, with the first home meet taking place Oct. 23 against Army.
Ben Lambert can be reached at [email protected]