Swimming ends up-and-down season at national meet

The College’s men’s swimming team may not have stolen the show at the 2005 NCAA Division III Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships, but it took a step in the right direction with some strong performances.

The Lions moved up from 15th last year to 14th with a final total of 79 points. The Lions’ highest team finish was an eighth-place showing at the 2003 NCAA Division III Championships.

The three-day event, which began on Thursday, was hosted by Hope College in Holland, Mich., and concluded with the crowning of Kenyon College as the 2005 NCAA Champion. Kenyon has now won an unprecedented 26 consecutive NCAA titles after finishing in first place with 556.5 points after three days of competition.

“It was an honor to participate at D-III nationals and help contribute to our team’s national ranking,” senior tri-captain Chris Levin said.

Junior tri-captain Steve Swenson finished ninth in the consolation finals of the 200-breaststroke event with his time of 2:04.82 to garner All-American Honorable Mention honors. Swenson now has 11 All-American awards under his belt.

As a sophomore in 2004, Swanson placed 10th in the 200-breast to earn All-American Honorable Mention honors and came in ninth at the 2003 NCAAs to garner All-American Honorable Mention status as well.

“Considering the fact that we just came off of a big taper meet four weeks ago and since we had nine members of the team at nationals, instead of the 22 at conferences, I think we did very well,” Levin said.

The Lions posted a time of 3:07.17 in the consolation finals of the 400-free relay and finished 11th to earn All-American Honorable Mention accolades. The foursome of junior Jeff Glenn, sophomore Kyle King, Levin and senior tri-captain Nick Steffanci recorded a time of 3:07.04 in the preliminaries to garner a 10th-place seeding in the finals.

“We caught a tough break with the 200-free relay when they disqualified us with a very questionable call but we kept fighting,” Levin said. “We were aiming for at least top 10 but I know my fellow team members and I worked as hard as we could and did very well with all things considered.”

Glenn was the Lions’ best place finisher in the 100-free as he came in 24th with a time of 46.79. Steffanci took 30th with a time of 47.06 and King placed 35th in 47.43. No one competed in the event’s finals, as only the Top 16 advance.

The national meet signaled the end of the swimming season. Levin said that despite some disappointing finishes, the season was successful overall.

“As a whole I think this team did some amazing things this year,” Levin said. “Although we didn’t beat Southern Connecticut at conferences and we only got 14th at nationals, I think we had a very successful season. We had some great dual meet wins against (New York University) and Rowan and I think we really grew and learned a lot from this season.”

The College’s women’s swimming team participated in its national meet March 10-12 at Hope College. The event was highlighted by an All-American performance from the Lions’ freshman star, Ava Kiss.

Kiss shined in her first NCAA appearance, earning All-American honors by finishing ninth in the 100-fly. She had punched a ticket to the championships with her NCAA automatic qualifying and school record time of 57.59.

“Kiss was the only other member of the team to go to nationals and she did very well,” junior Erin Stutz said. “As a freshman, she earned All-American honors which is remarkable. I was happy that she also got the chance to compete on the national level and show everyone how talented she is.”

Stutz swam a time of 2:10.96 in the preliminaries of the 200-butterfly event to finish 27th, while Kiss posted a time of 2:11.46 to come in 29th. Neither Stutz nor Kiss made the cut for the finals.

“Personally, I feel that my performance at nationals was not my best,” Stutz said. “However, I was excited and happy to have earned the chance to go and compete. There are many different levels of competition and to be on and witness the national level is truly inspiring and rewarding.”

Stutz posted an NCAA automatic qualifying as well as a school and Metropolitan Conference record time of 4:34.04 in the 400-individual medley to earn a spot in the event.

This is the second time in her career that Stutz has participated at the NCAAs. As a freshman in 2003, she earned three All-America citations in the 400-individual medley (12th place), the 400-medley relay (16th place) and the 800-free relay (13th place).

Stutz said that the season did not play out as well as the team had hoped, but that there is plenty of optimism for the future.

“We had a rough season being that our record was not the best,” Stutz said. “However, I feel that the team worked hard and never ever gave up. We practiced hard and supported each other through everything. I am really excited for next year.”