A Jumbo Swimming National Champion

Roger Gu, E20, wins Tufts’ first NCAA swimming title since 1982 with 50 freestyle victory

Roger Gu on NCAA platofrm holding trophy, along with the runners up

Tufts University junior Roger Gu, E20, was the first Jumbo to win an NCAA swimming title since 1982 when he captured the 50 freestyle at the 2019 national championship meet on March 20.

Gu broke his own school and New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) record with a winning time of 19.49 seconds. He edged Emory University senior Trey Colleck (19.69). Gu is the first Jumbo national swimming champion since Jim Lilley, A82, won the 100 butterfly thirty-seven years ago. Gu is also the swimming and diving program’s first NCAA winner since three-time champion diver Johann Schmidt, A14, was first in the 2014 one-meter event.

Ranked first in the 50 freestyle with a Tufts- and NESCAC-best time of 19.77 seconds entering NCAAs, Gu broke that mark in the preliminaries with a 19.69. He then took two-tenths of a second off that time to win the final. The national championship meet is in Greensboro, North Carolina at the Greensboro Aquatic Center.

“It’s a surreal feeling, not just winning, but the amount of love from everyone around me,” Gu said from North Carolina. “I’m so absolutely blessed to be part of such a supportive community and couldn’t be more thankful. The race felt great, and it was a lifetime best, so I can’t complain. I’m proud to be a Jumbo, and look forward to continuing to represent Tufts on a national stage.”

Later that evening, Gu anchored the 200 medley relay team, which finished seventh with a 1:29.44 time. They were just 0.18 off the school record set earlier this season at NESCAC championships (1:29.26). Also in medley relay were Kingsley Bowen, A19, junior Matt Manfre, E20, Costa Camerano, A20. They had been eighth in the prelims (1:30.52).

With the two All-American—top eight—honors today, Gu now has three individual and five relay All-American finishes in his career. He was fourth in the 50 freestyle last year. He will swim in the 100 and 200 freestyles later this week, as well as with most Jumbo relays.

Bowen’s relay All-American honor is his fourth as a Jumbo, to go with seven individual All-American awards. Manfre achieved his third relay All-American award, and Camerano his second.

Gu’s victory was the second individual national championship of the 2018-19 year for the Jumbos. Men’s tennis sophomore Boris Sorkin won the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Cup national singles title in October.

Paul Sweeney, director of Athletic Communications, can be reached at paul.sweeney@tufts.edu.

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