One of the most dynamic swimmers at the NCAA Men’s DIII Swimming and Diving Championships, junior Al Weik has made his presence known as a leader for Denison’s two -– and potentially three -– national championship squads.

Specializing in distance freestyle, Weik has garnered five individual national titles since his arrival as a freshman in 2010. His performances helped guide Denison to its first two national titles in history.

Now entering his third NCAA championship run, Weik looks to add to his already impressive resume while pushing his teammates to do the same.

Denison head coach Gregg Parini said few swimmers have ever matched Weik’s will to compete.

“Al’s just a tenacious trainer and just a terrific competitor, he’s arguably one of the most competitive swimmers I’ve ever had,” Parini said. “What’s nice about Al is that it’s not so much that he’s competitive with other people as he is competitive with himself.”

Senior backstroke, IM specialist and former national champion Quinn Bartlett was witness to the rise of the Denison program. Far from a national-championship caliber team his freshman season, Bartlett saw a transformation his sophomore year – the season Weik and an exceptional junior class joined the Big Red program.

Bartlett said Weik’s leadership and competiveness is contagious for up-and-coming Denison swimmers.

“He’s a great example for underclassmen. People see him, they see what he does, they see his focus, his competitiveness and it all goes together,” Bartlett said. “When people see someone that competitive, they strive to be the same. His competitiveness rubs off on the rest of the team.”

The Denison junior class, Weik’s current class, is noted for its competitiveness. The Big Red juniors have clinched a combined 11 individual national championships with eyes set on more in 2013. The arrival of the class in 2010 aligns with the program’s recent windfall of success and race to national titles.

Weik noted chemistry as a vital component to the class’ and the team’s overall success.

“There’s never a day where’s there not a ‘c’mon man’ between teammates, especially with our class,” Weik said. “Coming is as freshman you live together and you’re basically best friends from the time you get to school until you leave. There are a lot of good leaders in our class and I think we thrive because of that.”

The Big Red have indeed thrived since Weik’s arrival. Denison usurped rival Kenyon for the national title in 2011, the first time Kenyon had conceded a national title since the 1979 season.

Weik said contributing to the program’s rise has been a special moment in his career.

“Being a part of Denison swimming is so much more than anything I had with any other club,” Weik said. “To help as a freshman, for our class to come in and finally do what this program has wanted to do since it began, was awesome. It was a good ride.”