Section: Sports

Lords place second despite multiple wins and broken records

By Anna Dunlavey

The rivalry between Kenyon and Denison University’s men’s swimming and diving programs always comes back into the spotlight during the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Championships. Although the Lords fought hard through all five days of the meet, host Denison placed first for the seventh year in a row, while the Lords came in second.

However, anyone who saw the team totals and thought the Lords did not perform well would be sorely mistaken. Over the course of the meet, Kenyon’s swimmers set new personal, pool or conference records in almost every event.

“I think the team positioned themselves very well, both in the meet and for the NCAA championships,” Head Coach Jess Book ’01 said. “There was a lot to be proud of.”

Austin Caldwell ’15 took his last conference championship by storm, winning all seven of the events he swam. Individually, he won the 50-yard freestyle, the 100-yard freestyle and the 200-yard freestyle. He was also part of the winning 200-yard freestyle, 400-yard freestyle, 400-yard medley and 800 yard-freestyle relay teams.

“I wanted to go best times, break records and not lose a race,” Caldwell wrote in an email about his hopes for his performance. “I knew that if I could win my second race, the 50 free, I would have a good chance to win all seven events.”

Each of Caldwell’s wins was in a pool-record time, except for the 50-yard freestyle; he tied for first in that event when both he and a Denison swimmer, Conrad Wuorinen, touched the wall at 20.43 seconds. However, Caldwell had set the pool record in that event in the preliminary heat earlier in the meet, when he clocked in at 20.36. “Thankfully I was able to tie Conrad for first place in the 50,” Caldwell said. “I was not too happy that we tied but was pleased with the rest of my swims.”

The seven wins, six pool records and three conference records, many of which were milliseconds from national records, all factored into Caldwell being named the NCAC Swimmer of the Year. “It feels nice to know that the coaches in the NCAC believe that I am the swimmer of the year,” Caldwell said. “It was not a goal of mine; however, accomplishing some other goals of mine helped me get there.”

Four other swimmers also scored in the 100-yard freestyle: Wesley Manz ’15 placed fourth with a time of 45.36, Joey Duronio ’16 was fifth with a time of 45.50, Austin Pu ’17 was eighth with a time of 45.71 and Percy Gates ’16 finished ninth with a time of 46.10.

Harrison Curley ’15 also had an impressive meet. He was part of the record-breaking 400-yard medley relay team, whose finishing time of 3:15.83 was less than half a second slower than the national record.

Curley also succeeded in his individual events, winning the 400-yard individual medley, the 100-yard backstroke and the 200-yard backstroke, making it the second year in a row that he took top honors in both backstroke events. Curley’s time of 1:45.61 in the 200 backstroke beat the pool and NCAC records he set last year by one second. “It was fun,” Curley said. “I’m excited going into nationals knowing I’ve already accomplished something as big as this.”

Kenyon’s wins weren’t limited to just freestyle and backstroke. Daniel Jurgens ’16 finished first in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:03.48, and Christian Josephson ’16 was first in the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 1:50.36. Trevor Manz ’17 had a second-place finish in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:03.72 and David Perez ’18 finished fourth in the 200 butterfly with a time of 1:52.57.

“I’m proud of us,” Curley said. “I think we did a really good job.”

What ultimately set the Lords back was the diving component of the meet. Denison’s divers took the top five spots in both the one-meter and the three-meter dives, and Kenyon couldn’t rebound from that large point gap.

This weekend, Kenyon will host one final conference meet, the “Fast Chance” Invitational. It’s one final chance for swimmers to swim qualifying times for nationals. “It’s much more about the individuals doing something they have a real purpose to do and something they’re really excited about,” Book said. “It’s going to have a very different feel to it.”

“The meet this weekend always has some startling fast swims,” Caldwell wrote. “Swimmers can often perform better a week after a championship meet for a variety of reasons; an extra week of rest, a different environment, learning from their previous swims.” For the 2014-2015 Lords, it will also be, according to Curley, “one last big hurrah as a full team.”


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