Backler was not seeded in the top 15 going into the preliminaries of the 100 breast. He put himself on the map by posting the fastest time in the morning swim, qualifying first for finals. He then took home the title at night by making a nearly perfect third turn, which provided the momentum to move from third to first over the final 25 yards.
Backler credited this season's drop in time to increased dry-land training, which focused on cross-training and agility exercises. Before URI cut its program in 2008, the swim team did not train with the same intensity as UMass, Backler said.
"I don't think I would have come this far down there," Backler said. "The quality of the program is better here. I'm happy at UMass, and it's a great school academically. Everything happens for a reason."
Backler does not plan to continue his competitive swimming career after college. He has struggled with shoulder soreness for the past two seasons and is currently looking for Internet marketing jobs in the New England area.
"I think he's ready to hang up his suit and goggles," Yarworth said. "His success is a combination of coaching, hard work, talent and a great attitude. You can never discount the team dynamic. It's a championship-oriented team, and kids do whatever they can to reach that level."
The Backler File
Name: Dan Backler
High School: Triton Regional (Class of 2007)
College: UMass Amherst (Class of 2011)
Event: 100 breast (55.89), 200 breast (2:03.87)
News: Closed out career with A-10 title in 100 breast