By Rebecca Dann
After wrapping up a training trip in warm and sunny Sarasota, Fla., the Kenyon men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams traveled to cold and snowy Rochester, Mich. this past weekend to participate in the Oakland Winter Invite. Both the Lords and Ladies faced tough competition. “It’s typically a very challenging meet for us to travel out there and swim against some pretty good opponents in that environment, but I thought we rose to the challenge quite well,” Head Coach Jess Book ’01 said.
Out of the four teams at the meet, the Lords placed second with a total of 822.5 points, while the Ladies placed third with a total of 821 points. It was a close meet for both teams, as the Lords only trailed the first-place home team, the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies, by about seven points, while the Ladies could have grabbed second place from the University of Cincinnati with an additional five points.
“It’s always challenging the first meet back because we’re coming back from Florida, which was tough training, and then we’re getting back to school and it’s our first week of new classes and the new semester,” Mariah Williamson ’16 said. “But I think we did a really good job at overcoming all of those challenges and racing.”
The Lords had several impressive performances by several younger members of the team. Arthur Conover ’17 placed in a total of three events: third in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:36.10, fifth in the 400-yard individual medley (IM) with a time of 4:06.86 and second in the 1,000-yard freestyle coming in at 9:32.90. Ryan Funk ’16 also put up some impressive times, as he placed second in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 21.25 and sixth in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 51.35, along with competing in two relays. Ian Reardon ’17 also placed twice during the meet, claiming third place in both the 200-yard IM and the 200-yard breaststroke, with times of 1:54.85 and 2:07.09, respectively.
“It was a positive meet,” Book said. “One of [the objectives at one of] our team meetings at the end of the meet was to try not to reduce it down to a single word — ‘It was good,’ ‘It was bad’ — but try to see that there were learning opportunities, there were successes and there were missed opportunities in every meet as well. And so there were some things that we can be very excited about, but there are some things that we can work on as well. But overall, it was a strong meet for us.”
The women’s team also had several impressive performances that helped them claim the third-place spot. Williamson won the 1,000-yard freestyle with a time of 10:17.98, which was approximately 15 seconds faster than the next closest swimmer’s. She also placed in three other events, coming sixth in the 200-yard backstroke (2:10.20) and second in both the 500-yard freestyle (4:57.40) and the 400-yard IM (4:31.05). Newcomer Kanchi Desai ’18 also had a solid performance throughout the meet, as she placed third in the 200-yard butterfly (2:09.47) and fifth in the 400-yard IM (4:34.07). Katie Kaestner ’16 was another strong competitor among those who placed in two events, as she claimed second place in the 200-yard IM with a time of 2:08.87 and fifth in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:23.42. Diver Maria Zarka ’16 competed well that day, too, and managed to claim second place in the three-meter diving event, earning a score of 234.45.
“This past meet was a two-day meet, which is always challenging because you have to get up the next morning and swim again,” Williamson said. “But it’s good practice for the championship meets that are coming up, and I think that we did a really good job of not being tired this past weekend.”
The Lords and Ladies both have this coming weekend off from competition but they will use this time to prepare to face two North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) teams — Ohio Wesleyan University and Wittenberg University — two weeks from now.
“Some people will have been a week into rest at that point, and some people will have not started [rest,] so we’ll be at various stages of preparedness,” Book said. “But no matter what stage we’re in, it’s important to get up and race a little bit.”
The teams are already looking ahead to the NCAC championships in February, working to ensure that they are fully rested and prepared. “Our next meet is really a springboard into conference, which is a month away, and then NCAAs [National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III Championships], which is a couple months away,” Williamson said. “And in this point in the season, it becomes less about really hard training and more about fine-tuning, resting and focusing on the little details, which is going to be challenging, but I think we’re headed for an exciting end of the season.”