Tim Long ’17 has already made some revisions to Bowdoin’s record books during his short time on the men’s swim team, breaking the 1000-yard freestyle record with a 9:55.32 time against Bates on January 17. Conrad Stuntz ’94 had held the record at the College since his senior year. Long won the 1000 free and took the 500-yard freestyle in the same meet. He has followed the record-setting performance with wins in both categories at Wesleyan, dominating the 1000 with a 12-second cushion.
“We talked about it at the beginning of the season, and we thought all three of them (500, 1000, 1650) would go down this year,” said Nate Garner ’17, adding that Long had been close to breaking the Bowdoin records since the beginning of the season.
Long began swimming at age five, joined a competitive summer league soon after, and was swimming year-round by age nine.
“My friends were all swimming,” Long said, “It was a summer camp kind of thing. Then I won my first heat, got the blue ribbon and realized I like winning too.”
Long knew as early as his first year in high school that he wanted to swim at the collegiate level. He joined a swimming club to gain experience in long-distance races such as the 1000-yard and 1650-yard, which generally aren’t events at the high school level. The longest race offered in high school swimming is usually 500 meters.
Distance swimmers at Bowdoin practice longer than their short-distance counterparts, as Head Coach Brad Burnham focuses on strengthening the aerobic system to the point that a distance race becomes a contest of speed as much as endurance. Long explained that a lot of his preparation is self-determined, and that he and the other distance swimmers—Alex Tougas ’14 and Nate Garner ’17—coordinate to schedule their group’s practices.
An additional difficulty of distance swimming is the focus on mental discipline.
“I like it because it’s such a mental battle,” Long said. “You know it’s going to take a long time. You’re not going to be stopping at the wall and talking to people.”
Garner agrees, noting the strategy involved in distance swimming compared to the raw energy exertion in shorter races, including the ability to make up for a mistake.
Outside of the pool, Long is looking forward to taking advantage of the NESCAC’s short season to get involved on campus this spring. He has expressed interest in OutAllies, Green Athletics and BMASV and has found himself tentatively on the track of a biochemistry major with an emphasis on math. The self-proclaimed “audiophile” is also a DJ for WBOR and is looking to start a campus board game club. One such game near to his heart has been Cosmic Encounter, which became part of his post-practice routine over winter break.
Both Tougas and Garner champion the benefits they have gained from Long’s positivity in the pool.
“I have to give him a lot of credit for invigorating me this year,” Tougas said. “Last year I struggled a bit. Now, I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in.”
“Tim’s always staying positive,” Garner added. “Even when he’s not excited for something he acts excited for it, which is helpful. Sometimes there’s nothing fun about early-morning practice.”
While some would be content with holding a record at an institution as old as Bowdoin, Long and his teammates say there’s more work to do when it comes to breaking record.
“[The 1000-meter record] probably won’t make it to NESCACs,” said Long. “All three of us will beat it.”
“I think Tougas and I will end up where Tim is now by the end of the season,” Garner said. “But I think Tim will improve even further. I think Tim will get all three [records] if he—no, he’ll get them.”
The sports editor of the Orient chooses the Athlete of the Week based on exemplary performance.