This season, Lords swimming and diving will once again chase their 35th national championship after finishing second to rival Denison University in the NCAA Division III championships last spring. Claiming a 35th title would give the Kenyon Lords the record for most national championships won by any college sports program in any division. They have only relinquished the national championship three times to Denison since 1980.
On Saturday, the Kenyon Athletic Center was filled with the smell of chlorine, as eight teams crowded into the James A. Steen Aquatic Center to compete in the annual Kenyon Relays. The Lords finished in second place with 128 points while the Ladies tied for first with 160 points. Kenyon will be facing many of these teams throughout the season, including Denison and Ohio Wesleyan University. The meet, which did not contain any individual events, was a first step into the competitive season for the Kenyon swimmers and divers.
“Learning to be competitive at the early part of the season is a big part of our goals,” Head Men’s and Women’s Swimming Coach Jess Book ’01 said. “We’re trying to build the habits that we’re going to use at championship meets.”
The Ladies see the return of a host of young talent, including seven sophomores and three juniors who qualified to compete in the national championships last season and helped the Ladies to place second behind Emory University (Atlanta).
The women’s team tied for first against Denison with the aid of the young talent on the team. Hannah Orbach-Mandel ’19 was a part of that group of young swimmers, helping to win four different relays during the meet. “We were excited to go out there and show who we were this year,” she said.
The men’s team tied with Denison in points earned from swimming events, but Kenyon ultimately lost to Denison due to a deficit in points from diving. The Lords’ sole diver, Ryder Sammons ’19, finished third in both the one- and three-meter boards, but he could not garner any points for the team because he did not participate in any swimming relay.
Considering the high expectations for both teams this season, Book enjoys watching his players step into the leadership roles vacated by last year’s seniors. “Every season should be different,” he said. “We’re not looking for the same. No matter how good we’ve been in the past, it’s about being better in the future.”
Kenyon’s next event will be a meet on Oct. 28 against Ohio State University (Columbus), which is Division I. Orbach-Mandel is not expecting a win, but she is excited to compete nonetheless.
“To show that we’re D-III but we can still race with them is always fun,” she said.
Book looks forward to the Ohio State meet as well. “When you have a lane, you have a chance to compete,” he said.