This past weekend, the Emory women’s swimming and diving team captured its 10th consecutive and 12th overall NCAA Division III title while the men’s swimming and diving team finished as the national runner-up for the second consecutive year.
Both the women’s and men’s teams came down to the wire, with the Eagles edging out Kenyon College (Ohio) in both competitions for second place in the men’s and first place in the women’s championship.
In the women’s competition, the title came down to the final two events. Kenyon grabbed the lead in the third-to-last event after beating the Eagles in the 200-yard backstroke. However, the Eagles would not be denied and regained the lead with a strong performance by senior Ashley Daniels in the 200-yard breaststroke. With one race left and the title up for grabs, seniors Fiona Muir, Meg Taylor, sophomore Lucy Daro and freshman Zoe Walker finished runner-up in the 400-yard freestyle relay to seal the victory.
In total, Emory collected 488 team points across the four-day meet, edging second-place Kenyon by only nine points. This was the narrowest victory margin in the 37 years that the NCAA Division III women’s national tournament has existed.
Individually, Muir stood out for her first-place finish in the 100-yard freestyle. The win also marked Muir’s third consecutive title in the event and the fifth overall for her career.
The men’s team also came from behind to surpass Kenyon by a margin of just half a point, as they finished first in three of the final six events. Senior team captain Trey Kolleck was confident throughout the meet.
“During the first three days, we shaved off 100 points, and I knew that we were definitely going to beat them,” he said.
The Eagles’ second-place finish behind Denison University (Ohio) marks the fourth consecutive year that they have finished within the top three at the national meet.
The comeback began when senior Thomas Gordon defended his 1,650-yard freestyle championship, marking his second individual championship of the meet after he won gold in the 500-yard freestyle on March 20.
Kolleck kept up the momentum by winning the first-ever individual national title of his career in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 43.3 seconds.
“Before [the freestyle], I just tried to swim my race not worrying about the grander scale of things,” Kolleck said of his win. “I knew I had a 43.3 in me, and I just went out and executed.”
Completing the comeback was freshman Jason Hamilton, who also earned his first-ever individual title by winning the 200-yard breaststroke in 1:57.34.
With a small lead going into the final event, the Eagles finished as national runner-up in the final event of the meet, the 400-yard freestyle relay, to beat Kenyon in the individual event and the championship meet.
Kolleck spoke glowingly about the team, stating, “The team atmosphere makes it fun to be competitive and successful.”
Next year, the Emory women’s team will attempt to earn their 11th straight national championship, while the men seek their second title in four years. Ultimately, both teams have the pieces in place to accomplish their goal, as many swimmers will return to compete.