By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
One of the top swimmers in the region has been training for his college senior season with a goal in mind, the NCAA Division III championship.
Ted Mebust, a 2018 Cooperstown Central School graduate, missed almost a year of swimming at Bowdoin College because of the coronavirus pandemic, but he and his fellow 2021-22 captains have been planning to make up for it their senior year.
“We’re all living together. We’re all close as a team. So, we have been talking about how to establish or reestablish a team camaraderie, so to speak,” Mebust said in the phone interview with The Freeman’s Journal on Monday, Aug. 2.
When he was last in a competitive meet — Bowdoin, in Brunswick, Maine, had students on campus in the spring and the Polar Bears had a short training season, but no regulation competitions — Mebust had the best meet for his team at its conference tournament, the New England Small College Athletic Conference Championship, Feb. 20 to 23, 2020, in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Mebust placed second in the 50 backstroke, third in the 100 back and seventh in the 50 freestyle.
The NCAA Division III meet a month later was one of the first cancellations because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, at the 2019 DIII championship, Mebust had his highest finish with a 400 medley relay team, placing 13th.
Mebust won 14 Section III titles in swimming at Cooperstown, and also won a 15th section title as part of the golf team in 2017, both numbers thought to be unprecedented in school history.
The youngest of three swimming brothers, Ted has always been in the wake of Erik and Sean, who swam in college before him at SUNY Geneseo and Amherst College, respectively. Ted’s times have been faster sometimes, even knocking his brothers’ times off the “best boards” that hang around local pools.
Cooperstown had never had a male swimmer in the state swim meet until Sean and Ted teamed up with Ian Robinson and Michael Kern to finish sixth in the state in the 200 free in 2015. By the time he graduated, Ted had made the state meet four years in a row, topping out at third in the state in the 50 freestyle in 2018. He also made the final heat in his other event that year, finishing eighth in the 100 backstroke.
Sean, a 2016 CCS graduate who graduated college last year, also had a legendary college career, peaking at fifth in DIII in the 200 breaststroke as a junior in 2019. He placed second in the 200 breast at the 2020 NESCAC, and also took third in the 50 and 100 breast events.
In true Mebust fashion, Sean already had a pool record at Bowdoin, when Ted arrived on campus. “It was oddly comforting,” he said. “Our names on the board is always how it has been in our family.”
Sean still has his name on the Bowdoin board for the 200 breaststroke, but Ted now has his name on the board for pool records in the 50 free, the 50 back and the 100 back, as well as with four relay teams.
Mebust said he had great coaching in high school and at the club level, but his times began dropping consistently when he got to college and began a different regimen.
“My first two years, my drops in times have been a result of longer training periods,” he said.
Mebust said it is hard to let go of the disappointment of losing a year-plus of his college career, but he understands his brother and many of their friends and teammates sacrificed more. Sean is working in Boston now and is hardly in the pool at all, he said, while Ted is training for his senior year, which looks promising.
“This past year was a little bit of a letdown, because we had a good year set up,” he said.
“(This year) is going to be really exciting,” he continued. “We have a big roster, almost 30 guys. I am excited to wrangle this group of people who know each other, or some of them don’t know each other, to come together and help us be competitive.”