Before the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) swimming and diving championships took place last Thursday through Saturday, Head Coach Jess Book ’01 didn’t speak extensively to the Ladies team about their chances of winning it all — but he knew the team had the potential to take the crown.
The meet took place in Granville in Denison University’s home pool, with teams competing for the title of NCAC champion. The Ladies succeeded and took first place ahead of Denison for the first time since 2008, while the Lords took second. On both sides the Lords and Ladies claimed pool and NCAC records for their winning times.
“We’ve been moving this direction for several years now and it was exciting to be in a position to come away with the trophy,” Book said. “We’re always trying to balance performance and experience and both are highly valid and valuable things.” Book walked away this Saturday named NCAC women’s swimming coach of the year for the first time since 2013.
Also earning NCAC honors was first year Marysol Arce, who won the NCAC women’s newcomer of the year award. She took second place in the 200-yard freestyle, 400-yard independent medley and 1,650-yard freestyle. In the 1,650-yard freestyle, Arce would have notched a new pool and NCAC record if not for Angela Newlon of Denison, who finished ahead of her with a time of 16:29.59.
Along with Arce, many other first years made a splash. The first-year team of Hannah Orbach-Mandel, Delaney Ambrosen, Abby Wilson and Esraa Abdel Khalik won the 800-yard freestyle relay in a pool- and NCAC-record time of 7:26.31.
Also contributing to the Ladies’ success was Julia Wilson ’18, who broke pool and NCAC records with her first-place finishes in the 200-yard and 100-yard backstrokes.
In the diving realm, Brandon Roman ’16, Ryder Sammons ’19, Maria Zarka ’16 and Madeline Carlson ’19 all earned points.
On the Lords’ side, Roman took sixth and ninth and Sammons ninth and seventh on the three- and one-meter boards, respectively. Josh Yuen-Schat ’18 and Isaac Hager ’19 also dove at the meet but did not continue past the preliminary rounds.
For the Ladies, Carlson dove in the finals, taking third in the three-meter and fourth in the one-meter event. Megan Remillard ’16 also dove in the preliminary events. Zarka took first in the three-meter and one-meter dives with scores of 488.40 and 493.25, and was named NCAC women’s diver of the year for the third year in a row.
Denison beat the Lords by 228 points (1942.5-1,714.5), but Kenyon swimmers still claimed many titles. David Perez ’18 won the 1,650-yard freestyle while Joey Duronio ’16 placed first in the 100- and 200-yard freestyle events. Joining Duronio in the 200-yard freestyle relay was Percy Gates ’16, Ryan Funk ’16 and Austin Pu ’17, who together won the event in a time of 1:20.61.
“We don’t make [performance] the only definition of success for the team,” Book said. “I’ve found repeatedly that these swimmers, these teams, do best when they’re competing from the point of excitement and freedom and not from the point of expectation and outcome.”
The teams have been training for many months now, and strategy goes into planning for both the conference and national meets.
“We’re always trying to position ourselves to be the most competitive team we can be,” Book said. “The vast majority of the team is fully ready and fully shaved — ready to go — but there is a small portion of the team for whom this is a really exciting stop on an even longer journey.”
For now, the swimmers will continue training for Kenyon’s last home meet, the Fast Chance Invitational on Saturday. There, athletes will work to qualify for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III championships in Greensboro, N.C. March 16-19. The Lords will defend their NCAA win streak for the fourth year running while the Ladies may have a chance to take the crown for the first time since 2009.