Swimming & Diving

The Emory swimming and diving team celebrates on the fourth day of the NCAA Division III Championships. The Eagles won their 11th consecutive and 24th overall team national championship. Courtesy of Anastasia Hrivnak anastasiahrivnak.com

Emory’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams returned from the NCAA Division III Championships on March 21-24 with their 11th consecutive and 24th overall team championship trophy and 15 national titles. Capitalizing on their success at the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championships last month, the women’s team continued its national dominance over 60 teams by garnering 603 points, 103 ahead of No. 2 Kenyon College (Ohio), while the men’s team secured second place out of 54 teams with 369.5 points, trailing No. 1 Denison University (Ohio) by 227 points.

From day one, both teams proved their aptitude for the top spot on the podium with a combined total of five national titles and three NCAA DIII records.

Junior Fiona Muir kicked off the women’s national title run, winning her career-first 50-yard freestyle after breaking the DIII record during prelims with a time of 22.48. Following her victory, Muir, alongside junior Meg Taylor and seniors Cindy Cheng and Megan Campbell, broke another NCAA record in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:40.12.

On the men’s side, junior Thomas Gordon stole his first ever national title in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:23.70, almost 1.5 seconds faster than the runner-up. Senior Oliver Smith claimed the 50-yard freestyle for the third consecutive year, joining the ranks of only three other male swimmers to win the 50-yard freestyle thrice in DIII history, including Emory Head Coach Jon Howell (Kenyon, 1988-90). During prelims, Smith broke the NCAA DIII record with a time of 19.37.

“I couldn’t have planned a better ending [to my senior year],” Smith said. “I’d been aiming at that record since I was a freshman at Emory. Back when I started here, aiming at that record was a long shot, but I knew if I worked hard for it, I could get it. Accomplishing that was putting the cherry on top.”

The men rounded out the first day of competition with Emory’s second straight victory in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:27.63 from Smith, sophomore Sage Ono, senior Cooper Tollen and junior Trey Kolleck.

The women’s team beat out 60 teams with 603 points to win the No. 1 spot on the podium. Courtesy of Anastasia Hrivnak anastasiahrivnak.com

The second day of the meet on March 22 brought out stiffer competition from opponents like Denison and Kenyon, but Emory still acquired three national titles and one school record.

The women expanded their lead to 64 points with steep finishes by Cheng and Muir in the 200-yard freestyle and the foursome of Cheng, Muir, Campbell and junior Hannah Lally in the 400-yard medley relay. Cheng won her first individual national title of the meet, defending her 200-yard freestyle championship title with a time of 1:46.89.

To conclude the evening, the men obtained their third straight title in the 200-yard freestyle relay with Ono, Kolleck, senior Aaron Schwartz and Smith scoring a time of 1:18.61, lagging .04 seconds behind their Emory-record-breaking preliminary time. Ono, Smith, Kolleck and Tollen collected the third relay title for the Eagles in the 400-yard medley with a time of 3:13.97.

The Eagles preserved their respective standings on the third day with record-breaking performances by both teams. Cheng, senior Julia Wawer, Muir and Taylor set a new DIII record in the 800-yard freestyle relay with a time of 7:13.51, while Ono surpassed Emory’s 100-yard backstroke record, claiming a career-first individual title with a time of 47.62. The men’s team cut the race for national runner-up close just 7 points ahead of Kenyon.

On March 21-24, the Eagles secured 15 national titles across both teams. Courtesy of Anastasia Hrivnak anastaskiahrivnak.com

On the final day, the Eagles solidified their impressive standings. The women’s team capped off their ever-growing lead with 603 points, brought on by national titles and stellar finishes in the 100-yard freestyle and the 400-yard freestyle relay, to win their ninth consecutive women’s national championship. The men’s team wrapped up the weekend with 369.5 points, 227 points behind Denison, to secure the national runner-up title.

“I think [winning a national championship is] always a great way to end my season,” Cheng said. “Even though some races didn’t go how I wanted them to go, our team is such a close knit family that it made it so much better than I could’ve ever imagined.”

The Eagles celebrated a busy four days on the podium, winning a grand total of 15 national titles across both teams. After the meet, Smith received the title of College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Men’s Swimmer of the Year in the wake of his six national titles and multiple broken records. In addition to the athletes’ accolades, Head Coach Jon Howell earned his seventh CSCAA Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year title.

“This program is more than just the swimmers and divers who are currently in the pool,” Howell said. “It’s a whole culture of people who have really worked very hard to elevate the program during their time here … That’s how this program has developed over the years. Everybody leaves their mark and allows the next group to do something even better.”

Emory dominates the freestyle events at the UAA Championships Feb. 14-17 at the WoodPEC. Both men’s and women’s teams swept the 200, 400 and 800-yard freestyle relays. Courtesy of Alison Mai

The last time Emory’s swimming and diving teams lost the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championships, Bill Clinton was president, Google was merely an idea and Seinfeld was still airing new episodes. With the opportunity to stretch their streak of titles to 20, Emory’s men’s and women’s teams each delivered at the Feb. 14-17 UAA Championships. The women dominated with 2049 team points, well ahead of No. 2 New York University’s (NYU) 1246 points. The men’s competition was a tighter race, with Emory’s 1725 points giving them a 206 point victory over second place NYU.

Emory welcomed seven UAA rivals into the WoodPEC as hosts of the 31st annual UAA Swimming and Diving Championships. That hospitality did not extend into the pool, as Emory came prepared to take care of business.

The week began with the one-meter diving competition, in which Emory freshman Katie Kushner provided the best result of any Emory diver at UAA’s. Her score of 450.2 points was good for second place in the event. She also finished No. 8 in the three-meter.

“I was really happy with my performance on one-meter, that’s kind of my favorite board and the one that I feel most consistent and confident on,” Kushner said. “It was my first real big college meet, so I feel very happy with how I ended up.”

Though the men’s team didn’t have any divers at the meet, they were well prepared to make up the points in the swimming events. A key contributor to that effort was junior Tom Gordon, who dominated the distance freestyle events. His first-place finishes in the 200-yard freestyle (1:39.34), 500-yard freestyle (4:28.65) and mile (15:34.65) were good enough to earn him the men’s UAA Swimmer of the Year award.

“[Swimmer of the Year] represents, not myself, but the entire team,” Gordon said. “I found a long time ago in swimming that, if you swim for yourself and to just get times and get on the podium, you end up falling short of any goal you have. If you find a way to make it about your teammates … it makes it all so much easier.”

Gordon also anchored Emory’s champion 800-yard freestyle relay team, which was led by junior Alex Kohlman and followed by junior Matt Rogers and freshman Kellen Stillman.

“Before any of us step up on a block for a relay, your mind knows that we were chosen to be on that relay and represent Emory,” Gordon said. “It’s not just any other race. Being up there, not just with the three guys on that relay with me, but having my parents and seeing some of my friends up in the stands … that moment before I dove in is going to stick with me for a while.”

The women’s UAA Swimmer of the Year award also went to an Emory swimmer, senior Cindy Cheng, who earned the award for the third consecutive season. She is the third woman in UAA history to accomplish the feat, according to Emory Athletics.

“I am really happy that my hard work has paid off,” Cheng said. “[But] even though all of the accomplishments that I did at this meet were awesome, I am definitely still shooting higher and trying to go win at Nationals as well.”

Cheng left no stone unturned in her final UAA Championship meet, touching first in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:47.94 and sweeping the backstroke events, going 54.16 in the 100 and 1:57.87 in the 200. She set UAA records in all three races. She also contributed to victories in the 200-yard and 400-yard medley relays and the 400-yard and 800-yard freestyle relays.

Both men’s and women’s swimming teams both won in dominant fashion, each claiming its 20th consecutive UAA conference crown. Courtesy of Alison Mai

For both teams, the freestyle events were largely an Emory heyday. In the 50-yard freestyle, junior Fiona Muir claimed first with a time of 23.05, good enough to break her own UAA record of 23.12, followed closely behind by junior Meg Taylor at 23.38. The 100-yard freestyle may have been the greatest stunner, with Muir and Taylor going one-two yet again, followed by seniors Ming Ong, Julia Wawer and sophomore Caroline Olson, giving the Emory women a first through fifth place sweep in the event.

That dominance also showed in the freestyle relay events, with the Emory men and women reaching the top of the podium in each of the 200-yard, 400-yard (another UAA record) and 800-yard freestyle relay events.

Senior Oliver Smith swam his final UAA Championship meet in great form, winning the 50-yard freestyle in a time of 19.93, the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 44.53 (a UAA record), and second in the 100-yard butterfly, just 14 hundredths of a second behind Washington University in St. Louis’ junior Andrew Pek.

Likewise, senior Rebecca Upton closed out her final chapter in the UAA with an incredible, albeit exhausting, performance. On Thursday, Upton finished No. 3 in the 500-yard freestyle behind teammates Cheng and Turcanu, then swam both the mile and the 200 butterfly on Saturday. She finished second in the mile behind teammate junior Julia Durmer before she claimed victory in the 200-yard fly with a time of 2:03.06.

“The [200 butterfly] has always been my favorite and has always been the most challenging mentally, for me,” Upton said. “I honestly think it would have been a best time had I not swam the mile earlier in the day. I hit the 150 and I was like ‘Man, I think I’m going like a pace for a 2:01,’ and I was, and then I started on that fourth 50 and I was like, ‘Oh God, there go my legs, there go my arms.’”

Upton’s results speak to another facet of this meet: Emory athletes often find themselves battling one another for the top spot in their events.

“As much as it is great to be part of a team that is really successful, a lot of the success is due to how close we are,” Kushner said. “As much as we care about winning, we just honestly want everyone to do their best, and I feel like this weekend we did.”

Other strong finishers included sophomore Sage Ono, who won the 100-yard backstroke, and junior Ashley Daniels, who touched first in the 100-yard breaststroke and second in the 200-yard. On the men’s side, Cooper Tollen finished No. 3 in the 200-yard breaststroke.

With two decades of consecutive UAA titles to consider, the meet results were a celebration of both the current team’s accomplishments as well as the accomplishments of the many Emory athletes that came before them.

“That first group [in 1999] contributed to what this group did, and every team in between has kind of added something to it and moved things forward a little bit more,” Head Coach Jon Howell said. “When you start looking at it being 20 years, it’s much bigger than this current team, though this current team has added something that future generations will also benefit from.”

The Emory women’s team dominated with 2049 team points, while the men’s team triumphed with 1725. Courtesy of Alison Mai

On top of the team’s other successes, the Emory coaching staff composed of Howell and assistant coaches Bobby Hackett, Cindy Fontana, Chris Marshall and John Petroff earned Men’s and Women’s Coaching Staff of the Year honors at the conclusion of the weekend.

Emory swim will suit up again for a last-chance qualification meet, the Queen’s Invitational, in Charlotte, N.C., Feb. 23-24. The 2018 Region II Diving Championships will take place March 2 and 3 in San Antonio, Texas, before the season’s conclusion at the 2018 NCAA DIII National Championships in Indianapolis, Ind., March 23-24, when the Eagles will try to defend their 2017 titles.

Editorials Page Editor Madeline Lutwyche is on Emory women’s diving team.

Last week’s University Athletic Association (UAA) Swimming Athlete of the Week Oliver Smith (18C) qualified for the NCAA Men’s Division III Swimming and Diving Championships after he touched first in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 20.33 seconds in a dual meet against the University of Georgia Feb. 3. The senior is a biology major from Milan, Mich. The team competes next at the UAA Championships, starting Feb. 14.

Annie Uichanco, The Emory Wheel: What’s your go-to warm-up song?

Oliver Smith: I like a lot of Eminem. I don’t have one [favorite song] in particular.

EW: What’s your perfect pre-game meal?

OS: Chicken parm. … I love chicken parm.

EW: What’s the most embarrassing thing to happen to you in the pool?

OS: One time — this is why I always wear two caps — one time, I dove in for a race. I was at an age group meet or whatnot, and my goggles fell off. They had slid off my head and sunk to the bottom of the pool. After my race, I had to go back to the middle of the pool — and everyone was waiting — and dive to the bottom and try to find them.

EW: Favorite sports film?

OS: What I’m thinking right now is “42” about Jackie Robinson. That was a good one, but there are so many of them. I really love all sports films.

EW: Who’s an athlete that you look up to?

OS: I look up to my brother a lot. He was an athlete, he swam in college and now he’s in [medical] school, so he’s kind of my role model.

EW: Do you have a motto that you live by?

OS: My family, growing up, we had this motto. It was meant as a joke whenever me and my brother got in a fight, but I kind of took it to heart. It’s called, “Life’s a competition. Don’t lose.” So when I’m swimming, I kind of use that.

EW: What’s one thought you have before jumping into the pool?

OS: “This is gonna hurt.” In respect to holding my breath, especially.

EW: What is one major aspiration for you in life?

OS: Right now, I’m at a place where I’m kind of deciding what I want to do next, so I plan on swimming next year. If I can get fast enough this summer, then I’ll continue swimming to see if I can aim for Olympic Trials in 2020.

EW: Confession time. Do you pee in the pool?

OS: Oh yeah, absolutely. Every swimmer does, and if they tell you no, they’re lying.

This transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

Swimmers take flight at the start of a race in Emory University’s meet at Georgia Institute of Technology Jan. 27. Urvi Agarwal/Contributing.

The Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) Yellow Jackets demolished the Emory men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams in a matchup of Atlanta rivals Jan. 27.

The Yellow Jackets built a significant margin of victory over the men’s team and women’s teams, topping them by scores of 150-82 and 162-56, respectively.

Despite the victory by the Division I team, the Eagles welcomed the opportunity to face a strong swimming program at the McAuley Aquatic Center, the site of the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics swimming and diving events.

Sophomore Sage Ono was Emory’s star performer of the day, securing Emory’s only first-place finish out of 26 events. Recording an NCAA Division III Championship B cut benchmark with a time of 49.91, Ono was the only swimmer in the 100-yard backstroke to finish with a time under 50 seconds. Ono swam past five Yellow Jackets and four Eagles, besting the second-place finisher by just under two seconds.

Junior Thomas Gordon posted an NCAA Division III B cut in the 1650-yard freestyle. With a time of 16:16.24, Gordon finished third, more than 20 seconds off the pace of the first-place swimmer.

Emory’s men’s team also registered top three finishes in the 50-yard freestyle, the 200-yard freestyle and medley relays. Senior Oliver Smith turned in a strong day in the pool, posting a second-place finish in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 20.39 seconds and contributing to top three finishes in two relay races.

On the women’s team, senior Phoebe Edwards was the squad’s top performer, touching the wall second in the 1650-yard freestyle with a time of 17:18.27, a NCAA Division III B cut.

Along with Edwards’ spectacular performance, the women’s team recorded five more top three finishes. Senior Cindy Cheng in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:54.23; junior Fiona Muir in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 24.21 seconds; and the 200-yard freestyle relay team consisting of Muir, senior Ming Ong, sophomore Caroline Olson and freshman Lucy Daro all posted second place finishes clocking in at 1:37.64. Additionally, Ong in the 500-yard freestyle, clocking in at 5:11.93, and junior Ashley Daniels in the 100-yard breaststroke at 1:05.59, both finished third.

Emory athletes compete in a butterfly event. Urvi Agarwal/Contributing.

Muir considered Saturday’s meet to be a solid platform for the team to prepare for more intense competition moving forward.

“[Georgia Tech] was a good chance for us to go face good competition” Muir said. “It got us into the right mindset headed into the championship season where we will see some solid competition headed into those races as well.”

Head Coach Jon Howell said that facing Division I teams is an important learning opportunity because it exposes the team to some of the nation’s premier programs.

“There are always opportunities to learn from experiences like we had this weekend,” Howell said. “Our goal is always to get up and earn some respect by racing in those types of environments. … The goal isn’t necessarily to win the meet, but to go up against fast competition and get some races in.”

Ono discussed the benefits of facing Georgia Tech and vying against high caliber competition.

“[Georgia Tech] provides a really great opportunity to race against people we generally wouldn’t be racing in any other setting,” Ono said. “Because of this [opportunity], the team really stepped and competed better than they normally would at a dual meet.”

Emory anticipates another challenging matchup in their last dual meet of the year at the University of Georgia Feb. 3.

The Emory women’s swimming and diving team emerged victorious while the men’s team came up short at a swim meet at Delta State University (Miss.) in Cleveland Jan. 20.

Emory’s women took home a victory in tri-meet, topping the Delta State Statesmen 163.0-136.0 and the University of West Florida Argonauts 168.0-132.0. Squaring off only against Delta State, the men were bested at the hands of the Statesmen, 170.5-123.5.

Saturday’s meet came on the heels of a three-week winter training trip, where the team spent two weeks on campus and traveled to Florida to train for the homestretch of the season.

Head Coach Jon Howell emphasized the importance of the training, explaining that it allowed the team to focus on swimming.

“Our training trip is an opportunity for us to act as professional athletes,” Howell said. “The team doesn’t have to worry about balancing school and the stresses of college life.”

In a total of 16 events, the women’s team recorded four first-place finishes and seven second-place finishes. Seniors Cindy Cheng and Rebecca Upton along with freshman Bethany Seagraves led the squad’s individual efforts, claiming first in their respective events.

Upton was the first swimmer to touch in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:08.3. With the race close throughout, Upton clinched a tightly contested victory.

“It was a really tight race, and it was really neck and neck for about half of it,” Upton said. “The race got very tight at the end of the race as well, and I only out-touched the [West Florida] swimmer by two-hundredths of a second.”

Cheng was the first to finish in the 100 yard backstroke with a time of 57.13, and Seagraves led the pack in the 200 yard backstroke 2:07.40.

Emory also notched a first-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Cheng, juniors Fiona Muir and Meg Taylor and sophomore Caroline Olson all contributed to a time of 1:38.03.

Despite four first-place and 10 second-place finishes, the men’s team came up short against Delta State. Securing individual victories, senior Oliver Smith in the 50-yard freestyle, junior Matt Rogers in the 200-yard freestyle and freshman Sven Mesihovic in the 400-yard IM delivered the team’s best performances.

The meet was one week after the team’s workout-filled training trip. Smith said that the training trip provided crucial preparation for the remainder of the season.

“The team puts in a lot of hard work during our training trip to approach the end of our season,” Smith said. “I’m normally pretty broken down after, so to go the time I did after the training trip, I was happy with it.”

Howell noted that the team rebounded from the trip and performed well, despite the intensity of the training.

“Coming off of our winter training trip, everybody on the team is still tired,” Howell said. “Given all the circumstances we were able to stay poised and do a nice job.”

The 200-yard freestyle relay team consisting of Smith, seniors Alexander Hardwick and Aaron Schwartz and sophomore Sage Ono also posted one of Emory’s four first-place finishes with a time of 1:23.74.

Smith reflected on the challenge of facing Division II opponents and how it affected the team’s approach to the meet.

“We faced [Delta State] last year and they were really tough, so we expected another challenging meet,” Smith said. “Going up against a school that is a division higher than what you normally go up against gives you a level of racing you don’t normally get in Division III.”

In their next meet, the Eagles will travel to take on Atlanta rival Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) Jan. 27. Georgia Tech provides a unique challenge to the Emory swimming and diving teams each year, giving the Eagles the opportunity to vie with Division I athletes.

Emory swimming and diving acclimates to the rigor of a multi-session meet at the Emory Invitational Nov. 3 to 4. Alec Giufurta/Contributing

The Emory men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams took home first in a two-day meet Nov. 3 to Nov. 4. Emory hosted the Emory Invitational and bested a field of five NCAA Division II schools.

With an accumulated 757 points, Emory’s women’s team built a convincing lead, scoring nearly 200 points more than No. 2 Wingate University (N.C.). Out of 19 events over the course of two days, the women secured 13 first-place finishes.

Leading the way for the Eagles, senior Cindy Cheng raced in four individual events and three relays. Cheng blew past the competition in each of her individual events, collecting victories in the 500-yard freestyle, 200-yard backstroke, 100-yard backstroke and 2000-yard freestyle. Her success carried over to relays as well, where she notched another first-place finish.

“The biggest challenge for me was having to come back for another race, even though there was only 20 minutes between each one,” Cheng said. “But that was the point of the entire meet, to see how well we could manage multiple races at one time.”

Given that this is only their fifth meet of the season, Emory is building lactate tolerance for the multi-session meets further down the road.

“The objective was to get the team used to more of a championship format,” Howell said. “Having them do two sessions back-to-back and compete in several races in a short period of time teaches them how to recover and how to manage multiple races.”

Five other women tallied first-place finishes, including junior Fiona Muir, who claimed first in two races. Along with 10 individual victories, Emory added three team victories from the 400-yard medley relay, 200-yard freestyle relay and 400-yard freestyle relay races.

Given the team’s success, Cheng said that Saturday’s performance set a solid foundation for the team to continue its success throughout the rest of the season.

“[This weekend] was a good indicator of where we are in midseason,” Cheng said. “Everyone had a great weekend, so the team is setting up to have success on national level.”

Emory’s men’s squad was also successful, amassing 664 points and nine first-place finishes out of a total 19 events. The Eagles topped No. 2 Wingate by 47 points.

Senior Oliver Smith and sophomore Trevor Burke tallied in as the top performers of the men’s team, each earning multiple first-place finishes. Burke received the top score in both the 3-meter and 1-meter dives with scores of 291.08 and 296.63, respectively.

Smith attributed his success to his pre-competition routine.

“I wanted to focus on my mental state before the race, the kind of music I listen to and how much warm-up I do,” Smith said. “My goal was to prepare that warm-up routine — that way it takes away some of the pressure at the meet.”

Smith touched the wall first in two individual events, the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyles, and contributed to two first-place relay teams, the 200-yard freestyle and 200-yard medley. Contributing to Emory’s nine event victories, juniors Thomas Gordon and Matt Rogers, sophomore Sage Ono and freshman Sven Mesihovic touched with top times.

Smith also praised his teammates’ performances.

“There were some individuals who really stepped up and surprised us,” Smith said. “Everyone as a whole put out some fast times.”

Howell said that he was pleased to see his team’s preparation pay off.

“There were improvements in lots of areas considering it has been two weeks since we’ve really raced,” Howell said. “We always look at meets as a way to apply what we did in practice, and [the team] did a nice job with that.”

Emory will split its men’s and women’s teams Nov. 30 through Dec. 2 to compete in both the Miami University (Ohio) Invitational in Oxford, Ohio, and the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) (Ga.) invitational in Savannah, Ga.

Sophomore Maria Turcanu competes in the 200-yard butterfly at the Eagles’ home meet against Birmingham-Southern College (Ala.) Oct. 21. Turcanu won the event in 2:12.o3. Photo Courtesy of Alison Mai.

The Emory men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams trounced Birmingham-Southern College (Ala.) at home Saturday, Oct. 21. The men’s team secured a convincing victory, 163-121. Likewise, the women’s team earned a decisive 173-111 result. Emory’s strong showing Saturday came a week after a loss at the hands of a Division II squad, Queens University of Charlotte (N.C.), 187-75 (men’s) and 169.5-92.5 (women’s).

With Saturday’s meet taking place early in the season, Head Coach Jon Howell said that the team executed at a high level.

“The goal for Saturday was to apply a lot of what we had been doing at practice to a competitive environment,” Howell said. “We wanted to learn from what we did well so we could move forward.”

One of the men’s top performers was sophomore diver Trevor Burke, who posted the top score in both of his events.

Burke dominated in the three- and one-meter dives, defeating the No. 2 diver by more than 50 points in each event. His two No. 1 finishes contributed 18 points to the men’s total of 163 on the day.

The men’s team found success individually and as a part of relay teams. Twelve Eagles recorded individual victories, including freshman Sven Mesihovic, who posted a No. 1 time in two events. Freshman Sage Ono, senior Michael Grenon, sophomore Andrew DuPont and junior Alex Kohlman sealed a victory in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:35.38. In the 200-yard freestyle relay, junior Zachary Chen, senior Alexander Hardwick, sophomore Connor McCourt and freshman Connor Duggan swam past the opposition with a time of 1:26.86.

Senior Henry Copses was victorious in the 1000-yard freestyle, beating the No. 2 swimmer by a fraction of a second with a time of 9:48.23.

“From a personal perspective, I was little scared since it was a close race throughout,” Copses said. “I want to give props to the Birmingham-Southern kid who gave me a run for my money. It was a good, tight race, and I appreciate all the competition I can get.”

Copses considered Saturday’s performance to be a good indicator that the team is on the right path.

“Saturday was definitely our best meet so far, especially in comparison to our performance against Queens, which was a little rough,” Copses said. “Overall, this meet was better, and we put in a lot of solid work.”

On the women’s side, tearing up the competition, junior Julia Durmer was Emory’s top performer with three individual victories. In addition to Durmer, senior Cindy Cheng collected two individual first place finishes. Overall, 11 Eagles secured individual wins.

One of Durmer’s victories came in the 1000-yard freestyle. Durmer pieced together a terrific race, touching 12 seconds before the No. 2 finisher at [insert time].

“It was the third week in a row that I swam the 1000 freestyle, and that requires 40 laps,” Durmer said. “The 1000 freestyle is exhausting but in the best way possible since it was a really fun race.”

A transfer from the University of Virginia in Spring 2017, Durmer said that she already feels a strong sense of confidence in her new team.

“This semester I really feel like I’m part of something really special,” Durmer said. “People are training really well, the team is really cohesive and there has been great communication. So, I feel like we are in a really good place.”

Durmer mentioned that it was exciting to swim at home for the first time this year and to have the support of a home crowd.

“It was [Family] Weekend, and it was really fun having so many people in the stands,” Durmer said.

Emory’s top relay teams also played a major role in Emory’s success Saturday. The 200-yard medley team, which consisted of senior Sia Beasley, juniors Meg Taylor and Ashley Daniels and sophomore Maria Kyle, touched the wall with a time of 1:49.50. Taylor, juniors Hannah Baratz and Fiona Muir and freshman Bethany Seagraves led the way in the 200-yard freestyle relay, posting a time of 1:38.72.

In regard to the team’s performance, Howell mentioned that many contributors helped to make Saturday’s meet successful.

“We are a large group, and there are a lot of moving pieces and a lot of people that contribute to what we do,” Howell said. “It is hard for me to think about just a few key people because there were a lot of high points and a lot of things we accomplished.”

The Eagles will be back at the WoodPEC for a two-day meet Nov. 3 and Nov. 4 when they compete against Wingate University (N.C.), Catawba College (N.C.) and Georgia Southern University.

Former Emory standout Andrew Wilson finished first in the 200m and 100m breaststroke as well as the 4x100m medley relay at the World University Games in Taipei, Taiwan. Photo Courtesy Emory Athletics.

Andrew Wilson just keeps swimming (and placing himself on the podium at the highest levels of competitive swimming).

The former Emory swimmer, who graduated in 2017 from the College,  won two gold medals in the 200m and 100m breaststroke this week at the 2017 World University Games in Taipei, Taiwan. He also swam the breaststroke leg of the men’s 4x100m medley relay for the U.S. team, which claimed gold in the event and brought Wilson’s medal count up to three for the meet.

The biennial World University Games, known internationally as Universiade, connects more than 9,000 students from more than 170 countries in an Olympic-style sporting event, according to International University Sports Federation’s website. The event invites the world’s top student athletes to compete.

In his preliminary heat of the 200m breaststroke, Wilson finished in 2:08.37, the ninth fastest time in the world this year. His performance set a new meet record for the 200m breaststroke, according to World University Games. Wilson then claimed gold with a winning time of 2:08.45 in the final heat.

Notably, Wilson defeated Kazakh breaststroke swimmer and 2016 Olympic champion Dmitriy Balandin in this event. Emory Swimming and Diving Head Coach Jon Howell attributed Wilson’s victory to his incredible ability to persevere, particularly after he failed to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games.

“[Wilson] is very hard on himself when he fails, but he fails really well,” Howell said. “He has a moment where he is really upset and disappointed, but he is always able to circle back and really reflect on what he could do better. I think the failure piece for him is a big part of his success because he … is always better after a period where he feels like he falls short.”

Wilson finished in 1:00.15 in the final 100m breaststroke, tying for gold with Belarusian swimmer Ilya Shymanovich.

Wilson also finished in fourth place in the 50m breaststroke in 27.57 seconds. In the 4×100 medley relay, Wilson provided an impressive 59.29 split in the breastroke leg. The team finished with a time of 3:33.27, 1.58 seconds ahead of runner-up Russia.

Wilson’s pursuit for success has influenced the Emory swim team’s culture, indicated in part by last season’s Division III National Championship victory, said team captain and teammate Cooper Tollen (18C).

“[Wilson was] a big part of why I wanted to come to Emory,” Tollen said. “He was a brilliant guy … and he made sure the team knew to [take both swimming and] academics very seriously.”

Wilson graduated with a degree in applied mathematics and physics and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in computational mathematics at the University of Texas. He will continue to train full time with the Texas Aquatics swim club, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“He has really redefined what is possible in Division III swimming,” Howell said, citing Wilson’s excellence in academics and athletics. “The level that he has hit is really unprecedented for a Division III swimmer and, combined with his academic achievements, is a pretty unique accomplishment.”

Wilson could not be reached for comment by publication time.

The Emory men's swimming and diving team celebrates their first NCAA D-III title in school history. Photo courtesy Paul Smith.
The Emory men’s swimming and diving team celebrates their first NCAA D-III title in school history. Photo courtesy Paul Smith.

In a fairytale ending to the season, Emory’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams came away with NCAA Division III Championship titles, the first time both teams have won in school history. The Championship meet came to a close in Shenandoah, Texas, March 18, when the women secured their eighth consecutive NCAA Division III Championship title, while the men made history with the first title in program history.

The men ended the four-day meet with 438 points. Second place went to Denison University (Ohio) with 384 and third to Kenyon College (Ohio) with 371. The women’s team blew out their competition with 645.5 points. Williams College (Mass.) took second with 445 and Kenyon third with 381.

On the women’s side, the Eagles broke four D-III records across the four days of competition. The first record was broken by 200-yard freestyle relay team of sophomores Fiona Muir and Meg Taylor, and seniors Marcela Sanchez-Aizcorbe and Marissa Bergh, who swam a time of 1:30.52. Sanchez-Aizcorbe and Muir later teamed up with junior Cindy Cheng and senior Annelise Kowalsky to win the 400-yard medley relay and set another D-III record of 3:39.57, beating Kenyon College’s old record by 0.56 seconds. The third D-III record was set by the 800-yard freestyle relay team composed of Muir, Bergh and juniors Cindy Cheng and Julia Wawer, closing out the event with a time of 7:14.98. The final D-III record went to Muir, Sanchez-Aizcorbe, Bergh and freshman Caroline Olson in the 400-yard freestyle relay, hitting the wall at 3:19.56. The women also earned 28 All-American finishes and 15 Honorable Mentions.

The men’s team has consistently placed No. 2 and No. 3 at Nationals for 13 consecutive seasons. This year marks the first time that a school other than Kenyon or Denison has won the title since 1979. The Eagles ended the weekend with eight event national titles, five D-III records, 16 All-American finishes and four Honorable Mentions.

Senior Andrew Wilson impressed, even by his standards. Photo Courtesy Paul Smith.
Senior Andrew Wilson impressed, even by his standards. Photo Courtesy Paul Smith.

Senior Andrew Wilson captured the first D-III record of the meet, touching down in the 200-yard IM at a time of 1:44.18, breaking his own record of 1:45.57. Wilson, along with juniors Oliver Smith and Cooper Tollen and freshman Sage Ono, set a D-III record in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:26.14. The 200-yard freestyle relay featured sophomore Trey Kolleck and juniors Alexander Hardwick, Aaron Schwartz and Smith, touching with a time of 1:19.03. Ono, Smith and Wilson joined senior Christian Baker in the 400-yard medley relay, crushing their previous preliminary time of 3:12.96 with a time of 3:10.51, smashing the previous D-III record by 2.52 seconds.

“We put in the work,” Smith said. “This season, we really focused on developing a brotherhood and competing as a team, not just individuals. Also, [the team] had been talking about this win for a while. We knew it would be hard but we showed up with the mindset that we really could win and we saw the results.”

For the second time in his career, Wilson received the NCAA D-III Male Swimmer of the Year award.

“Having Andrew back was definitely a contributor to what we pulled off this weekend,” Smith said. “He’s a really influential motivator and powerful team leader.”

Head Coach Jon Howell was also honored with the Collegiate Swimmers Coaches Association of America Women’s and Men’s Swimming Coach of the Year. This marks the first time Howell received this award for the men’s team.

“I look at these awards as more of a reflection of the team than of myself,” Howell said. “I think we did what we always do which is focus on how we can get better and continue to work hard. The team did a good job at stepping up into leadership roles and bringing new ideas this season, which was a primary contributor to their success.”