After four days long days of events, Lords have eyes on winning NCAA nationals in March.
The Men’s swimming and diving teams took second at the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Swimming and Diving Championship at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, which occurred from Feb. 8-11. The Lords scored 1,750 points to Denison’s 1,953, a slim margin for such an extensive meet.
Over four grueling days, Kenyon chased Denison for essentially the entire competition and showed off a lot of the Lords’ talent as the team gears up for the final portion of the season.
“It’s so emotionally taxing and physically taxing,” Team Manager and Volunteer Coach Ryan Carson ’17 said, “but we do a really good job of staying extremely positive and cheering on our team.” He said the Lords bring a lot of energy to the pool.
Kenyon kicked off the meet with a runner-up finish by the team of Robert Williams ’19, Ambert Sawaya ’17, Conor Rumpit ’20 and Gabriel Bellott-McGrath ’18 in the 800-yard freestyle relay with a time of 6:38.68, earning 62 points for the team and B-cut standards, meaning the time would be competitive for Nationals. This form of measurement is used to gauge the level of swimmers across the country; the highest standard is A-cut, which means the time automatically qualifies the person or relay team for Nationals in mid-March. While a NCAC championship victory would have been nice, the team ultimately has its eyes on Nationals, the NCAA Division III Championship.
On the second day of competition, Rumpit secured a victory and a B-cut in the 500-yard freestyle. On the diving side, Derek Hoare ’17 secured a fifth-place finish from the one-meter board. Several of the divers qualified for Zone Diving Qualifiers, which gives divers a final opportunity to qualify for the National Championship. This achievement is no small feat.
The Lords kept the competition close going from the third day to the fourth: They secured four runner-up finishes and only trailed Denison 1,145 points to 1,299.
David Perez ’18 and Rumpit scored Kenyon’s final two victories on the last day. Perez won the 1,650-yard freestyle with a time of 15:38.01, his personal record for the season. Rumpit won the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 1:50.24 and took home the NCAC Men’s Newcomer of the Year honors. Perez finished second in the same event.
Along with these two victories, Kenyon snagged three additional second-place finishes to keep the competition close all the way to the end. Bellott-McGrath took second in the 100-yard individual medley with the team’s season-best time of 51.84, and Coire Gavin-Hanner ’18 earned second in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:03.23. The Lords also took a second-place finish in the 400-meter freestyle relay.
“Conferences is a very good opportunity for people to step up and race,” Carson said. “As a team, that’s exactly what we did.”
Many of Kenyon’s swimmers did not compete in this meet. Usually, the conference meet is a chance for swimmers without an assured shot of making Nationals compete for a spot.
As for now, the team has its sights set on Nationals, which will take place March 15-18 in Shenandoah, Texas. With Nationals in a little over a month, this means another brief period of ramping the training back up, according to Carson, before the team can finally rest in the days leading up to the meet.
Between now and then, the College will host the Kenyon College Invitational, which takes place this Saturday. The Invitational provides teams and individuals one last chance to make the cuts needed for Nationals and the NCAA Diving Regional meet, in Grand Rapids, Mich. from Feb. 24-25.