For the third straight season and the 34th time in the past 36 seasons, the Kenyon Lords swimming and diving team stood atop the podium and clutched the NCAA Championship trophy. Saturday night, the Lords closed out the four-day national meet with a total of 468 points, 85 points ahead of long-time rival and runner-up Denison University.
Unlike last season, in which Kenyon won by seven points, this year's result was carved out well before the final few events. Throughout the course of the meet, the Lords collected five event titles and set four NCAA records.
The Lords entered Saturday's finals session with a comfortable lead of 88 points over the Big Red. They did not, however, rest on that lead. Instead, they maintained it with a powerful finish that saw title-winning swims for Arthur Conover and Harrison Curley.
Conover, a sophomore, began the night for Kenyon with a winning and NCAA-record time of 15:01.24 in the 1,650-yard freestyle. He topped the previous NCAA mark of 15:04.85, established by Denison's Allen Weik at the 2012 championship. Conover, who placed third in the 1,650 as a freshman, rounded out his second showing on the national stage with a total of four All-America swims, including a runner-up finish in Wednesday's 500-yard freestyle.
Curley, a senior, was perhaps the most impressive of all the Kenyon swimmers. He finished off a monster meet by defending his 2014 crown in the 200-yard backstroke and he did so in record time. After posting an NCAA record of 1:44.79 in the morning prelims, he returned in the evening to win the title with an even better time of 1:43.49. Overall, Curley swam in five events in the championship. He won three of them, all in national record times, and placed third in the other two.
Saturday night's events also saw All-America swims from seven other Kenyon individuals. Conover was followed up in the 1,650 by senior Joe Guilfoyle and sophomore Alex Seaver. Guilfoyle took eighth place in a time of 15:41.58, while Seaver captured 13th place in 15:54.41.
In the 100-yard freestyle, senior Austin Caldwell posted a 12th-place finish with a time of 45.02. He concluded his Kenyon career with five national titles, as well as 20 All-America certificates.
Freshman Matthew Cooper added a 14th-place finish in the 200-yard backstroke before a trio of swimmers put the meet away for Kenyon in the 200-yard breaststroke. In that event, sophomore Ian Reardon claimed sixth place, classmate Trevor Manz took ninth, and junior Mark Newell placed tenth.
Denison made up some ground in the three-meter diving competition by taking over the top two spots, but that wasn't nearly enough. The Kenyon men went on to close out the meet with a fifth-place finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay. The quartet of Austin Pu, Joey Duronio, Caldwell, and Wes Manz clocked in at 2:59.18 to seal the deal.
After celebrating on the podium, the Lords were made aware that Jess Book was voted the NCAA Division III Coach of the Year. It was the second time in three years as coach of the Lords that Book earned the honor.
The team's 34th national championship ties it with the Oklahoma State University wrestling team for the most titles won by a single program in any sport of any NCAA division. The Lords won 31 straight titles, another NCAA record, from 1980 through 2010 and then tacked on three more titles in the past three seasons. The title also gives the Kenyon athletics department its 60th NCAA Championship, the most, by far, among all Division III institutions.