The Kenyon swimming and diving teams competed in the three-day, seven-team Total Performance Swim Camps Invitational in Gambier from Nov. 17 to Nov. 19 and won a decisive victory. The women earned a total of 2803.5 points and obliterated each of their competitors, including the second-place finisher West Chester University (WCU), whom they beat by more than a thousand points. The men, who garnered a total of 2581 points, beat WCU in a similar fashion.
Head Coach Jess Book ’01 described the meet as a dress rehearsal for the NCAC championship in February. According to Book, the Owls tapered for three days before the meet and suited up in technical suits in order to be best prepared to swim at 95% of their peak performance capacity as they continue to train for their championship meet. These strategies were largely successful, as the Owls collectively earned 69 NCAA ‘B’ cuts and 151 personal best times. Additionally, Yurii Kosian ’24 earned an impressive ‘A’ cut in the 200 backstroke with a time of 1:43.38. Bryan Fitzgerald ’23, who contributed to a number of first-place relay teams, spoke to the significance of the team’s overall success. “We made the strategic decision this year to rest far less than we normally would for a big meet,” he wrote in an email to the Collegian. “A number of people decided [to] put up ‘big meet’ times anyway.”
The Owls’ success was a result of the team’s depth, as both underclassmen and upperclassmen earned a number of top finishes and ‘B’ cuts. Book emphasized that the team’s dominance is a result of a collaborative effort and credited the seniors with contributing to fostering a supportive and competitive team dynamic. “Success for us is always built around a team and a collective,” he said. “The seniors are doing a wonderful job in taking on this year after a very successful year with a great deal of leadership.”
Olivia Smith ’23 has been another standout senior and a leader so far this season. She earned ‘B’ cuts in both the 100 and 200 backstroke with times of 54.80 and 1:59.87, respectively, while finishing first in both events. She noted that the Owls’ accomplishments last year, especially the women’s victories at the conference and NCAA championships, have helped many of the seniors develop a new winning attitude that has contributed to supporting both individual and team success this season. “I think that was encouraging for my class to see that, ‘wow, hard work really does pay off,’” she said. “If you have the right mindset going into a meet, like wanting to improve for yourself [and] also for your team, you can see better outcomes.”
Alexandra White ’23, who earned a first-place finish and a ‘B’ cut in the 100 freestyle with a time of 50.37, also explained that the team’s overall focus, especially at competitions, contributes to fostering a motivating environment. “We have a cool team thing where we don’t have our phones usually on the deck,” she said. “When the team is really engaged, and everybody’s watching and everybody’s cheering, people tend to do a lot better.”
Jennah Fadely ’25, who was named NCAC Women’s Newcomer of the Year last year, earned a ‘B’ cut and first place finishes in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke events. She acknowledged that much of her motivation comes from the seniors on the team and the examples they set. “They show us what it’s like to be a part of this team, and they’re always putting their best foot forward,” she said. “They’re always doing what’s best for the team, and, in my perspective, those are our leaders.”
As the Owls continue to prepare for their championship meet in February, the seniors are committed to leading the other members of the team through the training and competitions ahead. “By our age, the shoulders start to feel a certain kind of way, and it’s tough to get these old bones moving,” Fitzgerald said. “All we have is the good habits and nasty tricks that allow us to squeeze great swims out of our geriatric bodies. The goal is for the underclassmen to start learning and imitating the effective behaviors so that they can carry and share what makes our program special.”