By Alex Pijanowski | Staff Writer
Last week, the Ladies competed in the NCAA Division III national championships at the historic natatorium at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). By the conclusion of the meet, two members of the Ladies’ team had become new inhabitants of the House of Champions, and the team had earned an impressive runner-up finish.
The Ladies were fourth with 97 points at the end of the first day. On Thursday evening, Kenyon pulled ahead of Denison to claim third place, and after Friday, the Ladies had maneuvered into second place with 299 points. Thanks to several strong finals swims on Saturday and a victory in three-meter diving by Maria Zarka ’16, the team sat comfortably in second.
When the scores were tallied, Kenyon had earned 456.5 team points, far behind first-place Emory University’s 595.5 points.
On Friday, Celia Oberholzer ’15 won the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 54.33. Oberholzer won the same event last year, and also holds the NCAA DIII record.
“My times weren’t as fast as they were last year, and at first that really bothered me,” Oberholzer said. “But if you have a lane and you have a spot in finals, the time that you post doesn’t matter as long as you’re racing and competing with the purpose of putting points up on the board.”
Mariah Williamson ’16 was second in the 500-yard freestyle; Syd Lindblom ’14 was seventh. Williamson also earned fifth place in the women’s 200-yard butterfly, and Lindblom was fourth in the 1,650-yard freestyle.
The women’s 400-yard freestyle relay was the final event, and of all the races over four days, this one may have best exemplified the team’s indomitable spirit. At that point in the meet, it was not statistically possible for the Ladies to either fall out of second or assume first place, but this fact was not apparent given the heart with which they swam the relay.
Hillary Yarosh ’14, who also received the most All-American awards of anyone on the team, said she did not approach the race with any less intensity even though it would not alter the final score.
“I knew that we had a really good 400 free relay team, and I knew that we could compete for first place,” Yarosh said. “As a team, we wanted to go out there and do the best that we could and show how strong we were. We might not have gotten first place, but I know that we all felt that we put our best out there, and that’s what swimming’s all about.”
The team’s time of 3:24.55 was also a Kenyon varsity record for that event.
“I think we have a lot of pride in what we do, and we really love the sport,” Lindblom said. “None of us are going to roll over and do anything half-heartedly, because that is disrespectful to ourselves and to our opponents.”
Zarka was named Women’s Diver of the Year, and Head Diving Coach Andy Scott was named Women’s Diving Coach of the Year.
“Andy is everything that I need from a coach, and he’s everything that all the other divers need for a coach as well,” Zarka said. “He personalizes his relationship with all of us, and he knows exactly when we’re giving our best, and when we need a little push to be able to give our best.”
“That award is primarily a reflection of [Zarka’s] talent,” Scott said. “What I’ve tried to come to terms with is, there was a role that I played in developing and preparing her for that moment. I don’t feel like I’m the best diving coach on the pool deck at that meet, but I also feel like I have the most talented athlete, and I’ve done my job to give her a chance.”