By Emily Sampl
BOULDER, Colorado, March 17. THE men’s and women’s NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving national championships start this Wednesday at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis, and much like Division II, a couple of dynasties are on the line. Here’s a look at the schools and swimmers to watch when the meet gets underway.
The race for the women’s team title figures to come down to three schools: Emory, Kenyon and Denison. The three powerhouses have traded national championship titles and runner-up finishes since the Division III national championships came into existence in 1982. Only one year, 1983, did none of the three finish first or second in the team standings.
Emory has won the last four consecutive Division III national titles, and along with Kenyon is the only women’s Division III school to win more than three consecutive national championships. Kenyon finished second last year and has won 23 national championships dating back to 1982.
Emory won each of their four titles by more than 100 points, and could easily make it a five-peat this weekend. They’ll bring 17 swimmers to the meet, the most of any school except Kenyon, who will also have 17, and on paper have some huge events that will bring in major points. In the 200 IM and 200 breast, Emory has five swimmers seeded in the top 16; in the 100 breast, 200 free, 400 IM, 500 free and 1650 free, they have three swimmers seeded in the top 16. Their depth is incredible, and they have basically no holes. More than half of their swimmers will compete in three individual events: Megan Beach, Annelise Kowalsky, Nancy Larson, Courtney McDermott, Kylie McKenzie, Sadie Nennig, Brooke Woodward and Nina Zook.
Kenyon likely poses the biggest threat to an Emory five-peat, as they’ll certainly have enough weapons to overtake the Eagles. The Ladies have at least one swimmer seeded to make the top 16 in every event but the 200 back, and on paper their relays actually look stronger than Emory with a couple of top seeds. The 1650 free looks to be one of Kenyon’s strongest events, as Mariah Williamson, Sydnee Lindblom, Emma Stewart-Bates, Alexa Korsberg and Taylor Maurer are all seeded in the top 17, which could amass a huge number of points. Kenyon will have to match Emory’s depth and get a few more qualifiers in finals in order to have a chance at the title.
Denison also has a legitimate shot at the title. The Big Red women will have 13 swimmers at the meet, the next highest after Kenyon and Emory. The 200 free looks to be one of their strongest, as Carolyn Kane, Campbell Costley, Molly Willingham and Tully Bradford are seeded in the top 18. The 100 free looks promising as well, as Carolyn Kane, Mary Van Leuven and Ashley Yearwood all have a shot to make finals.
Other potential challengers on the women’s side include Williams and Johns Hopkins. The Blue Jays have a couple of strong events, including the 100 fly, where they have four of the top 14 swimmers. Senior Taylor Kitayama could double in the 100 (54.46) and 200 back (1:58.53), where she comes in as the top seed in both. Anastasia Bogdanovski also has the top time in the women’s 200 free (1:49.09) and 100 free (50.03).
The men’s meet figures to come down to two of the most dominant teams in men’s Division III swimming and diving over the last decade, Kenyon and Denison. The two teams have basically flip-flopped between first and second in the team standings in recent years, and this year has been no different. Kenyon won 31 straight national titles from 1980-2010 before Denison ended their streak in 2011 and then repeated in 2012. Kenyon took back their title last year and will look to start a new streak this weekend.
The Lords are bringing 18 swimmers to the meet, the most of any Division III school, men or women. Several Lords will be very busy at the meet, with multiple individual and relay qualifications. Austin Caldwell leads the way with two individual swims in the 50 free and 200 free and a possible five relay swims. Trevor Manz will also be busy, as he’ll swim the 100 and 200 breast, 400 IM and both medley relays. A couple of events are shaping up to be huge point getters for the Lords; in the 400 IM, they have four of the top five seeds (Michael Curley, Trevor Manz, Andrew Chevalier and Ian Reardon), and in the 500 they’ll have four of the top 16 seeds. The 1650 free could also be a slam dunk for the Lords, as Arthur Conover, Chevalier, Joseph Guilfoyle and Alexander Seaver make up four of the top 11 times coming into the meet.
Denison and Emory both have 14 swimmers qualified for the meet, and both schools have a legitimate shot to challenge Kenyon. Both teams have multiple swimmers seeded in the top 16 in most events. Denison does have one advantage that could prove to be huge: diving. In both the 1-meter and 3-meter, they have four divers, including NCAA record-holder Connor Dignan, who set both the 1-meter and 3-meter records at last month’s North Coast Athletic Conference Championships. Emory and Kenyon do not have a diver entered in either event. Denison also looks strong in the 200 free, where they have three in the top eight, including top seed Carlos Maciel at 1:38.00, and in the 100 breast, where NCAA record-holder Damon Rosenburg is the top seed at 53.61.
The meet gets underway Wednesday morning, be sure to check out Swimming World for the latest results and updates!