In total, 44 teams competed at the NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships, but Head Coach Jon Howell said the Eagles had the largest squad on deck, with echoes of the swimmers’ chants reverberating off the walls. 

The Emory University women’s and men’s swimming and diving teams traveled to Greensboro, N.C. to compete in the championship from March 20 to 23. The men’s team emerged on top to win the national title for the third consecutive year. Additionally, the women’s team placed sixth in the competition. 

Men’s team achieve national championship three-peat

The Eagles arrived in Greensboro two days early to get a feel for the pool before the championships. When the meet began, the once-empty stadium was packed with alumni, parents and professional swimmers.

Howell made sure to emphasize the importance of a grounded mindest ahead of nationals.

“We really went into it not with a goal of winning the meet, but really being the best version of ourselves,” Howell said.

The Eagles won their first event of the championship on the opening day, capturing the 200-yard medley relay title for the third consecutive year. The relay team consisting of seniors Jake Meyer and Ryan Soh, junior Jeff Echols and sophomore Caden Bjornstad posted a time of 1:26.14. Meyer said he was proud of the relay squad’s success and team effort, including that of Bjornstad, who was not part of the relay team last year.

“We each did our part,” Meyer said. “Everyone did what they needed to do and after, it was a really great moment seeing all the hard work we’ve done.”

Junior Crow Thorsen and his brother, freshman McKee Thorsen, each took All-America honors in the 500-yard freestyle on the first day of the meet. Crow Thorsen captured First Team honors, placing sixth with a time of 4:26.34, while McKee Thorsen earned a Second Team honor, placing 12th with a time of 4:29.91. Meanwhile, senior Nicholas Goudie took third place for the second consecutive year in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 19.78. 

On day two, Crow Thorsen swam the 400-yard individual medley after his brother won the consolation final for the same event with a time of 3:53.85. The two did their secret handshake before the race, which Crow Thorsen won with a time of 3:51.84. This is the first time an Emory swimmer has earned the title since Keith Diggs (09C) accomplished the feat in 2008.

Crow Thorsen said he was excited ahead of the individual medley final, but he knew the race was going to be “painful.”

“It wasn’t my best race,” Crow Thorsen said. “I got the job done, which was awesome and that was the goal, but I think it just demonstrated my work ethic and my love for the Emory swim team.”

Soh took to the pool after Crow Thorsen, placing fifth in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 47.64 and collecting his first individual All-America honor this season. Goudie, Meyer, Bjornstad and junior Dylan Yin also took bronze in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:19.52.

Meyer began day three with an impressive individual performance in the 100-yard breaststroke, taking second with a time of 52.26.

Goudie, senior Harrison Pire and the Thorsen brothers swam the last relay of the night with the 800-yard freestyle. The quartet ended the race in second place with a time of 6:29.63.

On the final night, Meyer took the mark for the last time as a collegiate swimmer in the 200-yard breaststroke. He touched the wall with a time of 1:56.01 and took second place. Junior Liyang Sun came in eighth at 1:59.81 and sophomore Henri Bonnault tied for the consolation win at 1:59.01. 

Meyer said he was not thinking about securing a medal when he finished the race.

“All I was thinking about was the team because I knew that if Liyang and I held our seeds, that was the championship.” Meyer said. “Being up on the podium knowing that had helped solidify the team championship was so special and just the perfect way to cap off my career.”

The Emory University men’s swimming and diving team celebrates after securing their third consecutive national championship. Courtesy of Emory University

Goudie closed out his collegiate career in the 100-yard freestyle with a fourth place finish and personal-best time of 43.67. He then worked with Pire, Bjornstad and Crow Thorsen to secure fifth place in the last event of the men’s competition, the 400-yard freestyle relay, with a time of 2:57.97.

The Eagles finished the meet in first with 434 points — 43 points ahead of second place Kenyon College (Ohio). This is the team’s 33rd national championship in program history.

“They really rallied behind each other,” Howell said. “We had some really good breakthrough swims there and they stepped up when they needed to.”

Women’s team places sixth at nationals

The Eagles’ chants were heard around the pool as the women’s team kicked off the first day of the competition. Senior Penelope Helm gave an All-America performance in the 500-yard freestyle, placing sixth with a time of 4:55.03.

The Eagles continued their strong start with another podium finish in the 200-yard medley relay. Senior Megan Jungers, sophomore Jane Sanderson and freshmen Katie Cohen and Maren McDonald finished seventh with a time of 1:41.62.

On the second day of the competition, Jungers, Sanderson and sophomores Isabel Huang and Penny Celtnieks placed fifth in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:33.54. Additionally, the 400-yard medley relay team of Jungers, Sanderson, Cohen and McDonald came in sixth with a time of 3:44.33 while sophomore diver Ren Watt earned 15th place in the 1-meter dive with a score of 384.55. .

Jungers swam first in the medley relay, putting the responsibility of a strong start for the team on her shoulders. Despite the extra pressure, Jungers said she enjoyed that being first off the block meant she got to cheer on the rest of her squad.

“Relays elevate the way that you swim,” Jungers said. “When you’re doing it with the people that you’ve been training with all year, it just brings a whole new level of excitement to the race.”

On day three, Jungers placed fourth in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 54.80. Huang placed behind Jungers in fifth at 54.97, and Celtnieks took the eighth place spot at 56.16. Cohen earned her first individual All-America honor of her career in the 100-yard breaststroke, claiming 14th place at 1:03.38. Huang, Helm and freshmen Katherine Swan and Meredith Teague capped off the night by finishing fourth in the 800-yard freestyle relay with a time of 7:22.85.

“I’ve been on that relay all three years I’ve swam NCAAs and that was our highest finish yet,” Helm said. “I’m just so proud of my underclassmen because it was me, a sophomore and two freshmen on that relay, so they really stepped up. They killed it.”

Helm said Teague’s performance as a freshman in a big moment was a testament to the program’s strength.

“That’s what makes Emory stand out,” Helm said. “We always rise to that challenge, having that grit and determination to do something special in those relays.”

The 200-yard backstroke race was held on the final day of the championship. Huang claimed fifth place with a time of 2:00.98, and Jungers came sixth with a time of 2:01.60. This marked the final swim of Jungers’ career and a new best time for Huang. The two hugged after the race.

“I was so happy for her,” Jungers said. “That hug meant everything. It was awesome.”

The 400-yard freestyle relay was the last event of the competition. Sanderson, Huang, Helm and Celtnieks secured a win in the consolation final with a time of 3:25.04.

The women placed sixth at nationals, four places below their runner-up standing last season. Howell noted that a swimmer can never be perfect and there are always ways to improve.

“People just assume we’re always going to be at the top,” Howell said. “The reality is there’s a lot of great teams out there that are also really eager to be successful. … But it was still a great week for us and they got better as we went along.”

Jungers is already looking forward to watching what the women have in store for next year.

“I’m so excited to see what happens next year because the girls on this team, they’re a force to be reckoned with,” Jungers said.

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Sasha Melamud (she/her, 27C) is from Clearwater, Florida, planning on majoring in creative writing and spanish. In her free time, Melamud enjoys being out in the fresh air, fitness, and hanging out with friends.