The Lords and Ladies swimming and diving teams dominated the Total Performance Invitational held in Gambier from Thursday, Nov. 18 to Saturday, Nov. 20. This was one of the first big meets of the season for both teams, and the Lords and Ladies rose to the occasion, securing multiple NCAA ‘B’ cut times for the NCAA Championships at the end of the season.
Beyond the team’s impressive performance, the meet served as a wonderful introduction to competitive collegiate meets for younger swimmers. “Getting our new guys the experience of a ‘championship feel’ while still having the comfort of being on campus was a great way to end the first half of the season,” freestyle and butterfly swimmer David Fitch ’22 said. Additionally, for the multiple swimmers who took a gap year due to the pandemic, this was their first major meet in a long time.
“There was so much anticipation and excitement leading up to the meet,” said individual medley (IM), backstroke and freestyle swimmer Crile Hart ’22. “The energy was amazing going into the first session and it carried through to the very last.”
The Lords started day one off strong, ending the day with 753 points, which was nearly double that of second-place West Chester University (Pa.), a Division II institution. The 500-yard freestyle and the 50-yard freestyle were strong events for the Lords as they took the top three places in each race. The Lords also placed first in the 200-yard freestyle, 200-yard freestyle relay and 400-yard medley relay.
On day two, the Lords extended their lead over the competition. At the end of the day, Kenyon built nearly a 900 point lead over the closest competitors Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.). The Lords took first and second place in the 200-yard medley relay and the 800-yard relay, respectively. Following the relays, the Lords won both the 400-yard and 200-yard freestyle, along with the 100-yard backstroke. Fitch continued to dominate after winning one individual event and two relays on day one, breaking the NCAA Division III record in the 100-yard butterfly. Fitch improved on his own record from the NCAA Championships in 2019.
The Lords continued to thrive in the pool on day three, winning the 1,650-yard freestyle, 400-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle, and the 200-yard butterfly. After Yurrii Kosian ’23 won two relays earlier in the meet and broke the pool record in the 100-yard backstroke on day two, he won the 200-yard backstroke. His time of 1:44:44 leads Division III by nearly four seconds, qualifying him for the NCAA Championship meet in March. The Lords won the 400-yard freestyle relay to wrap up the meet. At the end of the three-day meet, Kenyon was first with 3,048 points.
The Ladies started off day one with a first-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay, swimming the fastest time in Division III this year. The Ladies also placed first in the 400-yard freestyle relay. In addition to swimming in the relays, Hart placed first in the 200-yard individual medley, swimming the best time in Division III this season in that race. The Ladies were unable to secure first in the other two events of the evening as they took third in the 500-yard freestyle and second in the 50-yard freestyle. The Ladies finished day one in first place, with West Chester University trailing in second by over 200 points.
On day two, the Ladies were able to secure first-place finishes in the 400-yard individual medley, 100-yard breaststroke and 100-yard backstroke. The Ladies were on the leaderboard elsewhere as well, finishing in second and third place in multiple other individual and team relay events. Due to the depth of the team, Kenyon was able to extend their lead, finishing the day with a 700+ point lead over West Chester.
Hart and Gabrielle Wei ’25 were the only individual winners on day three. However, the Ladies racked up points by consistently finishing at the front of the pack. Hart won the 200-yard backstroke by swimming the fastest time in Division III this year before competing in the 400-yard freestyle relay, which also recorded the fastest time in Division III this season. Wei competed in the 200-yard breaststroke, where she not only swam the fastest time in Division III, but also broke the Kenyon record for the event with a time of 2:13.27. The Ladies finished the meet with 1,922 points. West Chester placed second with 1,546.5 points.
Both of Kenyon’s swimming teams will take a break from meets for finals and the holidays before traveling to Florida for their winter break trip in early January. With the break approaching, Fitch cautions the team against slowing down. “While the season feels long, in reality, it is very short and will go by very quickly,” Fitch said. “[The team’s] improvement comes from keeping that foot on the gas, not getting comfortable, and keeping the pressure on high.”
Hart echoed a similar sentiment. “This energy and excitement will keep on building throughout the rest of the season!” she wrote in an email to the Collegian. The Lords and Ladies have their next home meet on Friday, Jan. 14 against Ashland University.
The Ladies diving team also competed in Gambier at the Total Performance Invitational, where Katarina Ilic ’24 placed sixth in the 1-meter dive and Claire Fergusson ’24 finished fifth in the 3-meter dive.
The men’s diving team continued their busy schedule by competing in the Total Performance Invitational after being at The Ohio State University earlier in the day. The Lords scored well in the Total Performance Invitational. Zavaleta started off the meet by placing first in the 3-meter diving event. Fishell won the 1-meter dive to qualify for the NCAA Regional Championships in February. Zavaleta already qualified. Kenyon now has the top two 1-meter divers in Division III.
On Friday, Dec. 3, part of the Lords diving team traveled to Grand Rapids, Mich. to compete in the Calvin University Winter Invitational. Despite the team not being scored, Kenyon’s individual divers fared quite well. Zavaleta was the standout of the meet, both breaking Calvin University’s pool record and further extending his own Kenyon record on the 3-meter diving board.
Reflecting on his performance, Zavaleta is proud of his work, but knows there is room for improvement. “I am ready to keep working and achieve more,” he said. Like the swimming teams, the Lords and Ladies diving teams will take a break for finals and the holidays before traveling to Florida for their winter break trip in early January.