This past weekend, senior Steve Swenson overpowered everyone in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Championships to receive the NCAA crown in the 100-meter breaststroke.
With a time of 56.25, Swenson broke his own school record and became only the second swimmer in Lions history to claim an NCAA title.
“It was the greatest feeling ever,” Swenson said. “I knew there was a chance for me to win; I just had to race. I wanted that title and I got it.”
“It was incredibly exciting to watch him get National Champion,” head coach Brian Bishop said. “Steve went into the meet knowing that it was anybody’s game and he wouldn’t accept anything other than being first to the wall.”
In his career, Swenson has accumulated a total of 15 All-American honors. In this tournament alone, Swenson captured four of these honors to make his final season a memorable one. In the 200-meter breaststroke, Swenson placed 15th with a time of 2:07.02 to obtain honorable mention honors.
“I would like to go out on top, but I could see myself swimming Senior Nationals this summer and training another year to make the Olympic trial cut for the 100-breaststroke,” Swenson said.
Swenson assumed his last two honors in the 200-meter and 400-meter medley relays.
In the 400, sophomore Kevin Oliver, senior Glen Sudol and freshman Jeff Glenn joined with Swenson to place seventh in the event to earn All-American honors. The 200-meter medley relay showed Oliver, Swenson, sophomore Josh Forsman and junior Kyle King placing 10th with a time of 1:34.11 to secure the All-American honors for the team.
“I want to thank my coach, Brian (Bishop), for everything that he has done for me,” Swenson said. “He believed in me from day one and made me believe. The group of guys on the team are fantastic and its been a pleasure swimming with all of them. I couldn’t have asked for a better finish.”
Other top finishers for the men’s team included freshmen Greg Lloyd and Glenn. Lloyd added All-American honors to his rookie season as he took sixth place with a score of 444.55 in the three-meter diving event. Glenn placed 21st in the 100-meter freestyle for a total of 10 All-American citations in his career with the Lions.
“It was really up and down; if we swam as fast as possible we would have gotten eighth,” Bishop said. “We aren’t disappointed because this gives us more direction for the future.”
The Lions finished 12th in the tournament with 83 points, an improvement from 14th place last year.
The women’s team also experienced their own list of accomplishments in the Women’s NCAA Division III Championships. The team had three women represent the College at the tournament and all three came back with All-American honors.
Sophomore Ava Kiss led the pack as she posted a 56.78 fourth-place time in the 100-meter butterfly, which not only crushed the school record she originally set but also earned Kiss her second All-American honors. She received her first last year in the same event with a time of 57.59. In the trials of the event, Kiss swam a time of 57.18 which also broke her original record before the finals.
Senior Erin Stutz also put up an All-American honorable mention performance with a time of 2:10.57 in the 200-meter butterfly to take 16th place in the event. The honor marks the end of Stutz’s career with the Lions as she tallied her fourth career All-American award.
Junior diver Lee Swanson wrapped up the Lions’ competition, as she placed 13th in the three-meter diving event with a score of 379.10 to earn All-American honorable mention in her first NCAA Tournament appearance.
“It is such an honor to even be invited and to qualify for the meet,” head coach Jennifer Harnett said. “For the three of them to go and all come back as an All-American is such a great achievement. All three of them had very high expectations and they each had those expectations met.”