At the 2017 NCAA Division III swimming and diving championships, the Emory University Eagles achieved the feat of sweeping both the men’s and women’s first-place trophies. The only other team to do the same is Kenyon’s Lords and Ladies. They’ve done it 23 times.
With the 2018 championships on the horizon, the Kenyon squads, which last pulled off the sweep in 2009, have the potential to upend Emory and come home, once again, with a pair of first-place trophies.
The championships will be held at the Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis, beginning Wednesday, March 21, and concluding Saturday night, March 24.
The Ladies already own an NCAA women’s record 23 championships; however, their last was captured in 2009. Since then, Emory has dominated the national meet. The Ladies have finished runner-up to Emory three times during the last eight seasons. Last season, Emory took the trophy by earning 645.5 points, with Williams College in second with 445 points and Kenyon in third with 381.
Going into this year’s meet, the Ladies have reason to be optimistic. They’ll send a full fleet of 18 qualifying swimmers. Emory also qualified 18, while Denison University, Williams and Johns Hopkins University each will send 14.
The Ladies’ NCAA roster boasts veteran talent backed by an exciting first-year class. Julia Wilson ’18, Hannah Orbach-Mandel ’19 and Abby Wilson ’19 are all 11-time All-Americans, while Marysol Arce ’19 is a two-time distance event champion. Five first-years, headed up by Crile Hart ’21, could be the extra boost the Ladies need. Hart enters her first championship with this season’s Division III fastest time in one event and second-fastest time in two others.
In men’s competition, the Lords are in pursuit of their 35th national championship. Their total of 34 ties them with the Oklahoma State University wrestling team for the most championships accumulated by any single program in the history of the NCAA.
The Lords’ last championship was won in 2015. Denison won in 2016 and Emory followed in 2017, while Kenyon placed runner-up both years. The Lords have not finished out of the top two since the 1979 season.
The upcoming championship will see Kenyon compete with the maximum 18 qualifying swimmers, setting up the title chase to be a potential two-horse race with Denison, which is also sending 18. Johns Hopkins will send 13 qualifiers and Emory will send a dozen.
Eight sophomores dominate the Lords’ roster. Four of them — Mick Bartholomew ’20, Connor Rumpit ’20, Ben Baturka ’20 and Colin Reardon ’20 — produced a combined 10 All-America swims at last season’s meet. Matt Leenhouts ’18 returns after a year away from the national stage and carries Division III’s second-fastest times in two events. Jon Zimars ’18 and Robert Williams ’19 are back after posting top-five finishes last season, and the first-year class, led by David Fitch ’21, is poised to make a impact.