Eastern Michigan’s Delaney Duncan Proves Mid-Majors Can Swim Major Fast

Eastern Michigan's Delaney Duncan. Photo Courtesy: Dan D'Addona

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By Dan D’Addona.

It happens so infrequently, but when it does, it gives an entire nation of swimmers a little more hope.

When a swimmer from a mid-major college not only qualifies for the NCAA Division I championships, but scores, it is a moment where everyone remembers that you don’t have to go to the biggest school to swim the fastest.

Delaney Duncan proved that on Friday night in Columbus, Ohio. The Eastern Michigan junior made the final in the 100 breast and finished fourth.

“I obviously have a little team envy when I go to the hotel and see huge teams, but I am really proud to be able to represent a mid-major school at this level,” she said. “Only a few girls from the MAC got to made it. Going in, I just knew I needed to swim my own race.”

Eastern Michigan is in the Mid-American Conference and has been a MAC power for years, but Duncan is the first female swimmer to ever make a final for the Eagles.

Duncan finished in 58.36 to finish fourth in the final, a little more than two seconds behind Indiana’s Lilly King, who broke her own American record with a 56.25.

Duncan was the model of consistency, going a 58.36 in both prelims and finals. She also went a 58 at the Mid-American Conference championships.

“It is really hard to taper for conference and turn around and taper again for NCAAs,” she said. “I was just trying to go a 58 and I totally surprised myself going a best time.”

Her best time gave her the No. 2 seed out of prelims behind king.

“Obviously, there is a lot of internal pressure,” she said. “I was hoping for top three or a best time, and I tied my lifetime best, so I can’t be disappointed.”

It was something she saw possible two years ago when she made the consolation finals as a freshman.

Sophomore season did not go in the same direction.

“I B finaled two years ago and last year, I got 29th,” she said. “I am so thankful for this season because last season I had a bit of a hiccup year. I put way too much pressure on myself and didn’t have the year I wanted. Going into this year, I knew I had to make a lot of changes.

“I didn’t want to be a one-hit wonder.”

With two hits, she has made big-meet performances a pattern. And she still has one more year to prove mid-majors can do major things in the water.”


  1. Alexander B Gallant

    It does not make a difference what major you are in. Swim

  2. Maureen Newlon Blandford

    Myself and 3 teammates were all in the top 16 in at least 1 indiv event and all of our relays in the 90s. Same conference as EMU and webwere ranked 16th in the country. Midmajors can and will produce top swimmers

  3. avatar

    Jacob Hanson was an all-American 2 Years in a row and swam for EMU. It’s posisble. EMU has a fantastic program under Peter Luann. Not to mention Hanson was a 2 time all-American but he also was born without 3 fingers and still had the equivalent to half a hand. Stud.

    • avatar

      Sorry – Peter Linn*