NCAA Division III Championships: Twenty Swimmers To Watch

Photo Courtesy: Emory Athletics

The 2018 Division III Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships will be held this week in the legendary IU Natatorium in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Madison Square Garden of swimming. The women’s meet will feature eight-time defending champions Emory while Kenyon is nipping at their heels. The Denison men are the nation’s top team as they will try to take down reigning champs Emory and perennial power Kenyon.

Below is a list of the ten best swimmers based on where they are in the psych sheet.

Note: If a swimmer is not listed below, it doesn’t mean we don’t think they are worth mentioning. This is a meet with 526 total swimmers, so it was difficult to narrow it down to 20.

Women’s Unofficial Psych Sheet
Men’s Unofficial Psych Sheet

10. Kailey Allen, Freshman, MIT


Photo Courtesy: Paul Rutherford; MIT Athletics

200 IM: 2:15.76, 55th; 100 fly: 55.47, 6th; 200 fly: 2:00.66, 1st

Allen is the top seed in the 200 fly and is has been unstoppable all year for MIT. She has improved drastically already for the Engineers, as she was only a 2:05 coming out of high school. So this could be the start of big things for the MIT freshman.

9. Hannah Orbach-Mandel, Junior, Kenyon


Photo Courtesy: Kenyon Athletics

500: 4:56.13, 9th; 200 free: 1:48.43, 2nd; 100 free: 50.14, 2nd

Orbach-Mandel has been the face of a strong Kenyon team that is showing potential of an NCAA team title for the first time since 2009. If Kenyon has any chance of pulling the upset over dominant Emory, they are going to need the likes of someone like Orbach-Mandel to step up in all the relays. Orbach-Mandel is seeded second in both the 200 and 100 free so she could be battling for multiple NCAA titles.

8. Abby Van Harn, Senior, Calvin

Abby Van Harn 5

Photo Courtesy: Dan D’Addona

50: 23.17, 4th; 200 free: 1:50.79, 10th; 100 free: 50.04, 1st

Van Harn is searching for her first individual title after she was third in the 100 and fifth in the 50 last year. Van Harn also noted that breaking the 50 second barrier is a huge goal of hers and if she can go a 49, she will be looking prime for that first individual title.

7. Fiona Muir, Junior, Emory


Photo Courtesy: James B Coon; Emory Athletics

50: 23.05, 2nd; 200 free: 1:49.79, 6th; 100 free: 50.15, 6th

The third straight sprinter on this list is the defending champion in the 100 free. Muir was also second in the 50 at NCAA’s last year and second in the 200 free. Muir is another swimmer that Emory will rely on heavily if the Eagles are going to win a ninth straight NCAA team title in 2018.

6. Julia Wilson, Senior, Kenyon

Kenyon College competes during the 2017 NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships at the Conroe Natatorium on Friday March 17, 2017 in Shenandoah, Texas. Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher

Photo Courtesy: Aaron M. Sprecher, Kenyon Athletics

200 IM: 2:04.06, 8th; 100 breast: 1:01.35, 2nd; 200 breast: 2:14.09, 1st

Wilson is the top seed in the 200 breast and is second in the 100 behind only record holder KT Kustritz. Wilson was third in both the 100 and 200 the last two seasons. Could this be the year she breaks through? She is seeded ahead of Kustritz and last year’s second place finisher Caroline White of Williams. Kenyon is going to need everything out of Wilson, because she could be the difference maker on their medley relays.

5. Crile Hart, Freshman, Kenyon


Photo Courtesy: Kenyon College Athletics/Martin Fuller

200 IM: 1:59.70, 1st; 100 back: 55.01, 2nd; 200 back: 1:56.86, 2nd

The second freshman on this list is seeded in the top two in three events. One of the main reasons for Kenyon’s rise to the top this season has been Hart, who still has not achieved her best times in the 200 IM or 100 back that she did last year in high school. That is a sign that Hart could have more in the tank, which would be huge for Kenyon as they chase Emory for the team title.

4. Julia Durmer, Junior, Emory

Julia Durmer 1

Photo Courtesy: Emory Athletics

200 IM: 2:03.02, 5th; 400 IM: 4:17.68, 1st; 1650: 16:36.20, 1st

Durmer is the defending NCAA champion in the 1650 and was also second in the 400 IM in 2017 to Megan Pierce who is now gone. Durmer is also fifth in the 200 IM and could score some valuable points for Emory in that event. She is the top seed in the 1650, where no other Emory girl is seeded to score. So Durmer will be relied on in that event to come through.

3. KT Kustritz, Sophomore, Denison

200 IM: 2:01.66, 2nd; 100 breast: 1:00.50, 1st; 200 breast: 2:14.33, 2nd

Kustritz broke the NCAA record in the 100 breast already this season, which was the oldest on the books held by the legendary Lindsey Payne. Kustritz is still seeking for her first national title in her sophomore season as she was second in the 100 and seventh in the 200 last year. Her 100 time at mid-season last year would have won the national title so she will be hoping to not repeat that this year.

2. Emma Waddell, Senior, Williams


Photo Courtesy: Williams Athletics

50: 22.98, 1st; 100 fly: 53.74, 1st; 100 free: 50.45, 5th

It is safe to say the sprint events will be ones the fans at the Division III NCAA’s won’t want to miss as the top four in last year’s 100 free final all return in 2018. Waddell will be in the mix in the 100 free final as well as a big favorite in the 50 free and the 100 fly. Waddell is the defending champion in both those events and was second in the 100 free to Muir. Waddell will have a busy week in Indy, but she is a favorite in all three of her events.

  1. Cindy Cheng, Senior, Emory

Photo Courtesy: Emory Athletics

200 free: 1:47.84, 1st; 100 back: 54.16, 1st; 200 back: 1:56.63, 1st

Cheng is the only swimmer seeded first in three events as the senior will try to lead Emory to a ninth consecutive national title. Cheng is the defending NCAA champion in the 100 back and 200 free and is a favorite to repeat in both during her senior year. Cheng was also a member of three of Emory’s five winning relays last year. Emory is lacking a breaststroker to compete with the likes of Kustritz and Wilson, so they will be needing someone like Cheng and Fiona Muir to pick up the slack.


10. Kingsley Bowen, Junior, Tufts

100 fly: 49.54, 32nd; 100 back: 48.22, 3rd; 200 back: 1:46.88, 3rd

Bowen has been fourth and third the last two years in the 200 back and was also a three-time championship finalist last year. He has showed consistency with his individual events even if he hasn’t been higher than third. Bowen also led Tufts to a historic NESCAC victory last month, so having a large team of eleven total swimmers could be the extra boost he needs.

9. Tom Gordon, Junior, Emory


Photo Courtesy: James B Coon; Emory Athletics

500: 4:27.78, 7th; 200 free: 1:39.08, 17th; 1650: 15:22.93, 1st

Gordon was top three in all of his events last year as he is the top returner in all three this season. Gordon, however, is only seeded first in the 1650 and seventh in the 500. He has been known to drop a lot of time from conference to NCAA’s so his seeds may not replicate where he ends up in the final.

8. Matthew Leenhouts, Senior, Kenyon


Photo Courtesy: Kenyon Athletics

200 IM: 1:48.72, 2nd; 200 free: 1:37.69, 2nd; 100 free: 46.32, 47th

Leenhouts has never made an A-Final at the NCAA Championships as he didn’t make the meet a year ago and was only ninth in both IM’s his sophomore year. Could this be the year he finally breaks through? Kenyon will be in a tight team race with arch rival Denison, so the Lords will be relying on a guy like Leenhouts to step up individually as well as in relays.

7. Brandon Fabian, Sophomore, Johns Hopkins

500: 4:28.79, 11th; 200 free: 1:37.41, 1st; 100 free: 44.29, 5th

The Virginia Tech transfer has been clutch for the Blue Jays all season as he is the top seed in the 200 free and is fifth in the 100. He also provides a solid 500 for Johns Hopkins. He left Virginia Tech after their mid-season invite last season so he has yet to experience a conference to NCAA taper so the nation will not know what to expect from Fabian. But if he can get into three A-finals like he is capable of, then Division III will not take him lightly.

6. Sam McManus, Senior, DePauw

50: 21.17, 45th; 100 breast: 54.31, 2nd; 200 breast: 1:59.86, 1st

McManus has been one of the top breaststrokers in Division III all season. The breaststroke events will be wide open this year after the graduation of Emory legend Andrew Wilson. McManus could be next in line as he is the top seed in the 200 breast and is second in the 100 behind Pomona-Pitzer Lukas Menkhoff. Last year was his first time at the NCAA meet where he placed seventh and eighth in the 200 and 100 breast. With that experience under his belt, McManus could be in for a much better NCAA meet in 2018.

5. Oliver Smith, Senior, Emory

Oliver_Smith 3-Emory

Photo Courtesy: James B Coon; Emory Athletics

50: 19.60, 1st; 100 fly: 48.86, 17th; 100 free: 43.90, 1st

We already talked about Emory legend Andrew Wilson, but Smith was instrumental in Emory’s first ever team title last year. Smith won the 50 and was third in the 100 free in 2017 and anchored all four of the sprint relays the Eagles won, including going 18.9 in both the 200 medley and 200 free relays. Now without Wilson, Emory will be needing Smith to step up once again. But that hasn’t been an issue for the senior, who is going for his third straight NCAA title in the 50.

4. Bouke Edskes, Sophomore, MIT


Photo Courtesy: Paul Rutherford; MIT Athletics

200 IM: 1:49.96, 7th; 400 IM: 3:54.66, 4th; 200 fly: 1:48.47, 7th

Edskes is one of the more interesting swimmers on the list. Last year as a freshman, he was second in both butterfly finals and was fifth in the 200 IM. He elected to do the 400 IM instead of the 100 fly this season, but he isn’t seeded higher than fourth in any event. But much like Emory’s Tom Gordon, Edskes dropped a lot of time from NEWMAC’s to NCAA’s last year, including going from a 1:49 to a 1:45 in the 200 fly. If Edskes can replicate that monster taper for a second year in a row, he could be in line for a national title.

3. Bebe Wang, Sophomore, Denison

200 IM: 1:48.87, 4th; 400 IM: 3:55.55, 6th; 200 back: 1:47.48, 6th

Wang also had a big drop from NCAC’s to NCAA’s, but he only managed 11th in the 400 IM and 13th in the 200 back. Wang is already three seconds faster than he was last year in the 400 IM and two seconds faster in the 200 IM, an event he was 17th in at NCAA’s. Wang has really has had a breakout sophomore season so far and can he continue that momentum into NCAA’s?

2. Matt Hedman, Junior, Denison

500: 4:27.68, 6th; 400 IM: 3:54.00, 3rd; 1650: 15:27.93, 2nd

If Denison has any chance of taking down Emory and Kenyon, they are going to need to rely on their depth. The Big Red already defeated Emory in the Miami Invite and defeated Kenyon at the NCAC championship meet. Based on the psych sheet, Hedman is Denison’s leading scorer even though he didn’t swim any relays at the NCAC meet. He is seeded second in the 1650, third in the 400 IM and sixth in the 500.

1. Ian Rainey, Senior, NYU

Photo Courtesy: Kristin Karkoska

200 IM: 1:48.74, 3rd; 400 IM: 3:49.68, 1st; 200 fly: 1:47.63, 4th

Rainey was second in the 400 IM at NCAA’s last year after he didn’t compete in the fall after he transferred from Division I Michigan. Rainey is the top seed in his pet event, the 400 IM, and if he can get close to his best time in the event (3:45) then he is under the Division III record of 3:46.62 by Harrison Curley. Rainey already set his best time in the 200 IM this year and was second at NCAA’s last year with his best time in the 200 fly. Rainey could get NYU to a top five team finish if he is on point.