By Anna Dunlavey
This past weekend the women’s swimming and diving team met for their final two dual meets of the season, taking a decisive victory in both of them. On Friday, the Ladies beat host Ohio Wesleyan University 183-22, and on Saturday won a home contest over Wittenberg University 234-57.
The atmosphere at these dual meets is much more relaxed than it will be next week at the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Championships. “Dual meets for us are just good practice to race,” Hannah Cooper ’15 said. “They’re more for fun.”
The Ladies started Friday night’s meet with a bang. The 400-yard medley relay team of Katie Kaestner ’16, Haley Townsend ’16, Alyssa LaFrenierre ’15 and Jacque Garcia ’15 won the event with a time of 3:59.32, a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) “B” cut time. Although this does not mean they have automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships in March, it does mean they have a good chance of competing at the meet, depending on how many “A” cut times there are in the event by the end of the season.
The wins kept coming in the individual events. Townsend earned an individual victory in the 50-yard freestyle, finishing with a time of 24.57, and Kaestner won the 100-yard freestyle, with a time of 53.05. The freestyle victories did not stop there. Jenner McLeod ’17 won the 200-yard freestyle at 1:57.84, Kanchi Desai ’18 won the 500-yard freestyle at 5:07.96 and Mariah Williamson ’17 won the 1,000-yard freestyle at 10:26.83.
Ellie Crawford ’17 took the top spot in the 100-yard individual medley, finishing with a time of 1:02.30. Cooper placed first in the 50-yard butterfly with a time of 26.44, Celia Oberholzer ’15 placed first in the 50-yard backstroke at 27.46 and Laura Duncan ’17 placed first in the 50-yard breaststroke with a time of 30.08.
Because of the upcoming championships, which start a week from today, the Ladies began to switch gears a little for these two meets. While some swimmers rested in preparation for the NCAC Championships, others kept swimming their fastest for a chance to qualify for the NCAA championships in March. Head Coach Jess Book ’01 said the meets show the team is in a good position right now. “It was appropriate for where we are in our season,” he said. “It reflected well for where we are.”
“It’s a funny transition period because some people are starting to rest for conference,” Cooper said. “We swam very well, considering it’s an odd transition time.”
The divers on both the men’s and women’s sides did not compete at Friday’s meet, but on Saturday, in the final dual home meet of the season against Wittenberg University, Maria Zarka ’16 was back and ready for competition. She won the one-meter event with a final score of 221.40, and later won the three-meter event with a final score of 267.90.
On the swimming side of things, most of the Ladies who had won the day before returned and won again. Crawford finished first in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:25.25. McLeod won the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 24.39. Townsend touched the wall first in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:55.87. There were also some new winners on Saturday: Alexa Korsberg ’17 swam her first individual victory of the season, touching the wall first in the 1,000-yard freestyle with a time of 10:37.92.
Cooper, Kaestner and Williamson all notched two victories this time. Cooper won both the 100-yard backstroke, with a time of 59.60, and the 100-yard butterfly, with a time of 57.99. Williamson took the top spot in both the 200-yard butterfly, with a time of 2:05.43, and the 500-yard freestyle, with a time of 5:03.81. Kaestner finished first in the 100-yard breaststroke at 1:06.01 before winning the 200-yard individual medley at 2:08.15. She was also named one of the NCAC’s athletes of the week for the second time this season.
Saturday was also the team’s senior day, which was bittersweet for Cooper and her fellow seniors. “It’s very difficult being a student-athlete at Kenyon, so part of me is excited for the next chapter of my life, but I’m also really sad,” Cooper said. “I love this team and I love competing with them.”
Cooper will have a few more chances to compete with the Ladies, including one more chance at home. The Fast Chance Invitational, the final opportunity to qualify for the NCAA championships, will take place on Feb. 21. Before that, however, the Ladies must compete in next week’s NCAC Championships at Denison University.