Haley Townsend '16, a recent Kenyon graduate and four-year member of the Ladies swimming and diving team, was honored at an awards dinner in Indianapolis on Sunday as one of nine finalists for the 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year award.
The record-setting field of 517 Woman of the Year nominees was first whittled down to 142 conference nominees. The NCAA Woman of the Year selection committee then picked 30 women from that pool. Ten nominees from each of the three NCAA divisions comprised that group of semifinalists. In late September, the group was pared to nine finalists, three from each division. At the awards ceremony, MIT swimmer Margaret Guo was announced as the 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year.
Each nominee, throughout the entire process, was evaluated on achievements in academics, athletics, community service and leadership.
While at Kenyon, Townsend, a native of Greenwood, Indiana, was an international studies major, with a concentration in Islamic civilization and cultures. She minored in Arabic.
Townsend used her experience as a swimmer to immerse herself more deeply in the communities around her, both in the United States and during a study-abroad experience in Morocco, where she taught English to Moroccan students and joined a swim team to better know and understand the local community. Domestically, she volunteered in the Kenyon community, tutoring local high school students, volunteering as a swimming camp counselor and hosting future students on campus visits. She also worked with the Middle East Student Association, serving as the group's journal editor her senior year and redesigning the journal for a digital format.
Townsend graduated summa cum laude and earned a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Fellowship in Turkey, though the program was later discontinued due to unrest in the region. The three-time College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-American earned the 2014 NCAA Elite 89 Award, now known as the Elite 90 Award, presented to the student-athlete with the highest grade-point average competing at a national championship finals site. She also was recognized by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) as a Scholar All-American for four years and earned a 2016 NCAA postgraduate scholarship.
Townsend, a team captain her senior season, helped lead the Ladies to one conference championship and three second-place finishes at NCAA championships. In individual and relay events, Townsend was a seven-time conference champion, and won the 2013 national championship in the 400-yard medley relay. She is a 16-time CSCAA All-American, holds three school records and the national meet record for the 400-yard medley relay.