Section: Sports

Ladies swimming finishes second in NCAC tournament

Ladies swimming finishes second in NCAC tournament

By Anna Dunlavey

When the Ladies swimming and diving team entered Denison University’s Trumbull Aquatic Center last Wednesday, they were trying not to think about what the final score of the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Championships would be on that Sunday. “We didn’t put a lot of focus on the need for winning the meet,” Celia Oberholzer ’15 said. “There was a lot of focus on individual events and making each race count.” This mentality worked for the Ladies, who finished second overall out of the nine schools present.

Maria Zarka ’16 continued to dominate in diving. Her first-place final score in the one-meter dives, 456.90, was Denison’s pool record. She also placed first in the three-meter dives with a final score of 439.20, an event that she broke the pool record with last year. Zarka’s performance earned her the NCAC Diver of the Year award for the second year in a row.

“It’s fun to watch the diving program continue to get better, and to watch Maria dive at the highest level,” Head Coach Jess Book ’01 said.

Zarka wrote in an email to the Collegian that she is “extremely proud to be named diver of the year again, especially with the amount of other deserving divers there are in the conference.” She added that she is always impressed by the other athletes she competes with and against. “I can’t help but stand up and cheer on the girls who are chasing me down for first place when their hard work comes together as a great dive,” she said.

Zarka’s coach Andy Scott was honored as the Diving Coach of the Year. “It’s one of the best feelings to see Andy be recognized for his hard work,” Zarka said. “He puts up with a lot and goes above and beyond as a coach.”

The swimmers saw some first-place finishes of their own. Oberholzer placed first in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 55.88. She has now, she said, “completed her sweep” by winning this event at the conference championships in all four of her years at Kenyon. Oberholzer also placed second in the 200-yard backstroke, where she had a time of 2:03.91.

Katie Kaestner ’16 had first place finishes in both the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke races. In the 100, Kaestner finished at 1:03.21, while two other Kenyon swimmers finished only milliseconds behind her to take the second and third spots in the race: Julia Wilson ’18 placed second with a time of 1:03.37, and Laura Duncan ’17 took third with a time of 1:03.77. Kaestner’s first place finish in the 200 was at 2:17.79. Wilson also placed in the top three in this event, finishing third with a time of 2:18.72.

The Ladies also had good performances in longer distances. Mariah Williamson ’16 placed third in the 1600-yard freestyle at 16:44.13. She later finished fourth in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:51.97. Another Kenyon swimmer, Sarah Lloyd ’16, also finished the 500 in fewer than five minutes. Lloyd came in sixth with a time of 4:59.98. The Ladies also earned a second place finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay, where the team of Haley Townsend ’16, Hannah Lobb ’16, Megan Morris ’16 and Jenner McLeod ’17 finished second with a final time of 3:25.06.

At the end of the meet, there was time for time trials, during which swimmers who did not have the chance to compete in the meet itself were able to race and attempt to beat their personal records in the event of their choosing. “I think that’s something that this team does well,” Book said. “They continue to enjoy the chance to compete and to race.”

Many of the Ladies took advantage of this opportunity, Oberholzer said. “It’s hard to get up and go after the scored meet has wrapped up,” she said. “It’s really nice to see improvements across the board and exciting swims on all levels.”

The Ladies will have another chance to improve on their times at this upcoming weekend’s home meet. Although this meet was once called the “Last Chance” meet, the name was changed this year to the “Fast Chance” meet. Some swimmers will rest during this meet, especially if they have already qualified for the National Collegiate Athletic Association Championship, but others will compete and try to achieve faster times. “It’s a pretty flexible meet in that the swimmers are really in control of what they’re swimming,” Oberholzer said. “It’s giving the swimmer a chance to decide how their season ends.”

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