On Saturday, the Kenyon swimming and diving teams competed in the Fast Chance Invitational at home in Steen Aquatics Center. The Lords and Ladies focused on qualifying for the NCAA Championship meet that will occur from March 16 to March 19. On Wednesday, the NCAA released its psych sheet — the outline of the meet which shows swimmers’ lane assignments. Kenyon swimmers will be well represented at the competition.
NCAC Women’s Swimmer of the Year Crile Hart ’22 is competing in three events in which she is the top seed: the 200-yard backstroke, 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard butterfly. Hart is looking forward to competing again at the meet. “[I] can’t wait to get back in the pool with the best in the country with my teammates and race our hearts out,” she said.
This time, though, Hart will be competing with a whole new team. In addition to Hart, David Fitch ’22 will be another senior that the team can lean on. Fitch, like Hart, will be extra motivated, after missing his past two chances to compete in the NCAA Championships due to COVID-19-related cancellations. Fitch is swimming in the 100-yard backstroke, 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly. He will look to defend his title in the 100-yard butterfly as well as improve on the NCAA record in that event, which he currently holds (46.46).
“As I said since the beginning of the year, the [COVID-19] year last year would cause chaos to the league and essentially cause a structural restart to the league with everyone starting near ground zero with very little nationals experience,” he wrote in an email to the Collegian. “It’s been up to us to make sure that we come out of that chaos prepared and ready to fight for our title.”
According to Fitch, practices have been less intense, as Kenyon has been tapering in preparation of the meet. The teams have also been focusing on getting enough sleep and eating well for proper nutrition. As a leader, Hart is also focusing on sharing her experience of the 2019 meet to excite the rest of the team, who have never competed at nationals.
Reflecting on the upcoming championship, Hart had a message for her teammates. “The meet is super exciting and the energy is contagious so just remember that you are there for a reason, stay focused, relaxed, have fun and do your part as best you can,” she said. “And remember to be the loudest, proudest team on deck!”
The messages that Hart and Fitch are sending seem to be seeping into the minds of underclass swimmers. Daniel Brooks ’24 is swimming in three events (the 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard freestyle). “I’ve also heard that a lot of swimmers don’t have their best swims at nationals and to not put so much pressure on each swim,” he said.
Many members of the swim team took gap years to be able to compete at one last championship meet. “Ever since we had the meet cancelled back at the end of the 2019-20 season, there has been an increased desire to go and do something special this year,” Brooks said. He is looking forward to competing with the best talent in Division III.
The fastest swimmers in Division III will all be competing in Indianapolis as they pursue a national title, both individually and for their respective schools.