Kenyon’s swimming and diving teams are making another run for the title at the 2019 NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships after coming in second and third place, respectively, on the 2018 podium. The four-day championship meet in Greensboro, North Carolina, starts Wednesday, March 20, with preliminary heats beginning at 10 a.m. each day and final heats starting at 6 p.m., and concludes Saturday, March 23.
The Ladies, winners of an NCAA-record 23 national titles, last claimed the crown in the 2009 season. Since then, Emory University has won nine straight championships, including last season, scoring 603 points to hold off the Ladies, who tallied an even 500 points. The Ladies also finished runner-up to Emory in 2016, 2014 and 2013. This season, the Ladies’ NCAA squad consists of 16 swimmers and one diver. Emory will send the maximum roster of 18 swimmers, while Denison University will travel with 14 swimmers and two divers.
The Ladies’ roster is highlighted by Crile Hart ’21, the 2018 NCAA Division III Swimmer of the Year, who will look to defend her titles in the 100- and 200-yard backstroke events, as well as in the 200-yard individual medley. She enters the upcoming meet with the nation’s top-seeded time in all three of those events. At last year’s championship, Hart was a member of Kenyon’s national champion 400-yard medley team, an event she swam with Caitlin Foley ’19, Julia Wilson ’18 and Hannah Orbach-Mandel ’19.
Orbach-Mandel and Abby Wilson ’19 will bring top speed to the Ladies’ lineup. Orbach-Mandel is an 18-time All-American with top-five finishes in the 200-yard freestyle during each of the three past championship meets. She’s also posted top-10 finishes in both the 100- and 500-yard freestyles in the past two championships. Wilson, a 14-time All-American, specializes in the 200 freestyle as well. She enters the meet as the No. 4 seed in the event, just one spot ahead of Orbach-Mandel. With top-10 seeded times in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events, Wilson, like Orbach-Mandel, will be a key component in relay races.
Rounding out the Ladies’ senior qualifiers are Delaney Ambrosen ’19, Madeline Carlson ’19 and Foley. Ambrosen is a freestyle and backstroke specialist, an 11-time All-American who claimed top-five finishes in the 200-yard backstroke in each of the last two seasons. She’ll also make an impact in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle races. Carlson is Kenyon's lone diver, making her first NCAA appearance after qualifying for the meet with a fourth-place finish at the regional championship. Foley, like Ambrosen, is a backstroke specialist. She’s collected four All-America awards during her previous three trips to nationals.
Kendall Vanderhoof ’20 is another key piece of this team. A distance specialist with five All-America awards, she placed top-five in the 500- and 1,650-yard freestyle last season and currently possesses top-10 seeded times in those two events, as well as in the 200-yard freestyle.
Other Kenyon swimmers who could factor into team scoring include Emmerson Mirus ’21, the No. 3 seed in the 50-yard freestyle; Andrea Perttula ’22, the No. 4 seed in both the 100- and 200-yard breaststrokes; and Makena Markert ’21, the No. 5 seed in the 100-yard breaststroke.
In relay events, the Ladies own the division’s top-seeded or second-seeded time in all five races.
The Lords’ third-place finish at the at the 2018 championship was the first time in the past 40 years that they did not finish either first or second. The team aims to improve on that result this year, fielding a full roster of 18 swimmers. Last year's national champion, Denison, also will compete with 18, and last year’s runner-up, Emory, will send 15 swimmers and one diver.
Kenyon’s team is comprised of four seniors, five juniors, four sophomores and five first years. David Fitch ’21 might be the one to make the most noise at the championship meet. He’s a five-time All-American and was recently voted the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Swimmer of the Year. Fitch, who claimed a fourth-place national finish in last season’s 100-yard butterfly, will enter this year’s meet with the division’s fastest time in the event. He'll also show up in Greensboro with the second-seeded time in the 100-yard backstroke and the ninth-best time in the 50-yard freestyle.
A trio of seniors — Robert Williams ’19, Humphrey Pruett ’19 and Jon Zimdars ’19 — will back up Fitch. Williams is a three-time NCAA qualifier with nine All-America awards. He owns the No. 3-seeded time in the 200-yard freestyle and the No. 6 seeded-time in the 500-yard freestyle. Pruett, who is making his first nationals appearance, will check in as the fifth seed in both the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke races. Zimdars is a butterfly specialist and six-time All-American. He finished fifth in the 200-yard butterfly last season and enters this year’s meet as the No. 8 seed in the 100-yard butterfly.
Connor Rumpit ’20 will tackle distance events. He has the No. 4 seed in the 500-yard freestyle and the No. 7 seed in the 1,650. Classmate Tommy Weiss ’20 looks to qualify for the finals in both the 100-yard butterfly and the 100-yard backstroke. He’s the No. 6- and No. 9-seeded swimmer, respectively, in those events. Mick Bartholomew ’20 has the sixth-best times in both the 200-yard backstroke and 200-yard breaststroke.
New faces who could create waves include Luis Weekes ’22 and Joe Black ’22. Weekes is the No. 2 seed in the 200-yard individual medley and Black, the 2018 NCAC Newcomer of the Year, is the No. 9 seed in the 100-yard freestyle.
In relay competition, the Lords enter the championship with the division’s fastest squad in the 400 medley. They also hold top-three times in the other four relay events.