By Nina Zimmerman
In his final year of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) swimming eligibility, Zack Turk ’12 won another swimming national championship, this time with the University of Michigan Wolverines at the NCAA Division I national championships in Indianapolis, Ind., one week after the Lords won their 32nd NCAA Division III national championship.
Turk swam the freestyle leg of Michigan’s 200-yard medley relay, which captured gold in the event in 1:22:27 and set a new NCAA record.
“To still have this opportunity for me to represent Kenyon College is something that I’m very honored to have been able to do, even post graduation,” Turk said.
Turk said the Lords’ win gave him a huge source of motivation and inspiration as he trained for his own national meet. “Watching Kenyon win this year was truly an exceptional experience for me,” he said. “It was almost disbelief at how well they performed and how much of a team they were.”
A Kenyon delegation was in Indianapolis to support Turk, including former head coach Jim Steen and current head coach Jessen Book ’01. Turk said the outpouring of support from the Kenyon community astonished his current teammates and speaks to the strength of the Kenyon bond.
“A lot of my teammates were joking that I might have had more supporters than most teams at the actual meet,” he said. “There were about 20 current and former Lords and Ladies that came and showed their support, which was seriously amazing. It’s been a year since I’ve seen most of these people and they’re still going to come out and show their support [and that] meant everything.”
Though the Wolverines won the Big Ten conference championship earlier this year and were seeded to win the national title before the meet, Turk said the team’s focus remained on the little things, like being competitive and executing good swims, a mentality similar to that of the Lords during their championship meet.
“Prior to the meet our goal wasn’t to win, it was to finish top three, because Michigan had not won since 1995 and a top-three finish would have been the top finish in almost 20 years,” Turk said.
With three national championships to his name, numerous individual national titles and no more swimming in his immediate future, Turk said he is grateful to have had the experience of swimming both as a Lord and then later as a Wolverine.
“Swimming can teach you lessons, and then you can take these lessons and apply them to life,” Turk said. “I think that the idea of achieving something so much greater than yourself, [such as] being a national champion, obviously you cannot do that by yourself, and being able to be on a team really is a bond that ﾅ I was fortunate enough to share at Kenyon and at Michigan.”