College Swimming Roundup: NCAA D2 Championships

Upcoming: D1 Women and D3 Champs

swimnerd logo


🏊‍♀️ SWIMS OF THE WEEK 🏊🏽‍♂️

NCAA Division II Championships

The crowns reside in Florida this year. After two Florida teams took NAIA titles last week, Nova Southeastern and University of Tampa continued the state’s streak with a pair of mostly dominant team performances at D2 Nationals. The opening day 800 free relays proved a harbinger of the rest of the week, as the NSU women emphatically broke their national and meet records, becoming the first D2 team sub-7:10 with a 7:08.50, while the Tampa men swam the second fastest relay in D2 to history for a 7:20.78 and a four second win.

Similar to their championship last year, the NSU women were led by their mid-distance and distance squads. Last year’s Swimmer of the Year Emily Trieschmann outdid herself this year by sweeping the 200 through the 1650 in 1:45.60/4:44.60/9:38.98/16:18.73, the 1000 a new national record, the 1650 closing in on the oldest D2 record on the books (16:17.66 from Kristen Frost in 2008 - your author watched that live as a freshman with NCAAs at Mizzou!), and all but the 500 a PR. She added the 200 free, the only event she didn’t win in 2023, to her trophy cabinet to finish that impressive sweep. She also provided strong relay splits, anchoring that 8FR in 1:45.73 and topping out at a 49.15 100 free split. Only one women - Drury’s Ashlynn Moore - split faster than that at this meet. NSU put 3 in the top 8 of the 200, 500, and 1000, and 3 in the top 10 of the 1650. The Sharks’ other event winner was Rafaela Raurich, who swept the butterflys in 53.16/1:56.17, the latter a mere two tenths off the national record.

NSU built a big lead - almost 50 points - going into the last day to the point where it seemed that day would be a victory lap, but runner-up Colorado Mesa made a big charge, featuring their own 3-A-final event in the 200 back. Agata Naskret led the charge there, finishing her backstroke sweep with a 1:55.30 (she took the 100 the day before in 52.52). CMU rode that momentum into a strong win in the 400 free relay (3:20.00 - Naskret 50.16/Qunell 50.75/Williams 49.38/White 49.71), leaving NSU’s overall margin of victory only 15.5 points. Benedict Nagy was another key player for the Mavs, sweeping the IMs 1:58.63/4:10.40, the latter making her the second fastest performer in D2 history.

Mesa also took the 400 medley relay (3:38.52 - Naskret 53.08/Moran 1:01.51/Borchardt 54.04/Qunell 49.89 holding off Trieschmann’s anchor) and the 200 free relay (1:31.26 with the same 4FR quintet splitting 22.81/23.23/22.68/22.54), while Lynn took a slightly surprising win in the 200 medley relay (1:40.14 - Dekoninck 25.27/Schneider 28.16/Mertins 23.57/Lundell 23.14).

In other outstanding swims, Indy freshman Kirabo Namutebi inched out the D2 record set last year in the 50 free with a dominant 22.08 win, .4 ahead of runner-up Bryn Greenwaldt.

Indy got another pair of wins from breaststroker Celina Schmidt (1:01.11/2:10.82, the latter third fastest in D2 history), while Henderson State’s Kiara Pozvai took a big win in the 100 free in 48.88.

On the men’s side, Tampa romped to their first title with suffocating depth. Outside of that 800 free relay, the only event win for the Spartans was Santi Corredor, formerly of Florida and Florida State, setting his first 500 free PR since 2021 with a 4:17.98. He really earned that win as well, as the next 3 men finishing less than a second from him. He’d finish the meet with three more top 3 finishes in the 200 IM (3rd, 1:43.97), 400 IM (3rd, 3:46.26), and 200 back (2nd, 1:41.59). They also got four top-8 finishes from Parker Knollman (1:35.86 free, 46.42/1:41.99 back, 1:46.64 IM), and another 3 from freshman distance star Jacob Hamlin (1:36.66/4:21.20/8:58.32/15:16.22 free, last 3 All-American). Sprinters Ian Cooper and Blake Moran, fellow Florida State transfers with Corredor, made championship finals in both sprint frees, and a fourth FSU transfer, Adrian Aguilar, was top-8 in the 100 fly.

Last year’s Swimmer of the Meet, Colorado Mesa’s Ben Sampson, one-upped himself much like Trieschmann on the women’s side. He went from two individual titles to four, sweeping the backstrokes (45.88/1:40.34 D2 record) and IMs (1:41.92/3:40.22 D2 record). That 400 IM proved to be the most exhilarating win of the meet, as 1000 winner Cedric Buessing (8:54.51, D2 #2 all-time) hung on Sampson’s feet for the entire race until making a huge move in the last 50 to come within a hundredth of the win. Buessing’s 24.37 final split was, as far as I can tell, the tenth fastest of any swimmer in history.

The men’s meet had a number of toss-up races besides that 400 IM. Buessing passed up Wayne State freshman Khalil Ben Ajmia (who would go on to win the 1650 big in 14:57.68) on the last 50 of that 1000 for the win. Findlay’s Tim Stollings, definitely not the biggest man at the meet, used his immaculate underwaters to pass up teammate Camillo Marrugo, who may have had the widest wingspan in D2, in the 100 fly, 45.96-45.99, and JT Amrein led a mob finish in the 200 breast, 1:54.66 over Drury teammates Joao Nogueira (1:54.72) and Davi Mourao (1:54.75), to win his second championship in the event.

The men’s meet also featured three relay national records. The 200 free relay offered the biggest story as Henderson State leadoff man Lamar Taylor was the favorite in the individual 50 but pulled up after the start with a leg cramp. His team, featuring two fifth years and two seniors, built a big lead between his 19.10 leadoff and Jack Armstrong’s 18.57 split, while Jase Pinckney (19.17) held pace and Patryk Dabrowski (19.56) held off Tampa’s hard charging Blake Moran (19.08) for a 1:16.50 new record. Besides that, Indy took the 200 medley relay record (1:24.46 - Thompson 21.32/Cole 23.59/Sawicki 20.24/Joseph 19.31), while McKendree posted a record in the 400 medley relay (Rozenek 46.35/Pinheiro 52.04/Lustig 45.85/Upton 42.87), breaking a Queens dynasty record.

Other winners were repeat champs from last year - including Jackson Lustig taking his second consecutive 200 fly title, this time with a full mustache, in 1:42.15, Taylor winning another 100 free in 42.64, and Mourao wiping out everyone with a 27.19 closing split for a 51.88 100 breast win, second fastest in D2 history. Finally, Wingate transfer Marcel Snitko made it two in a row for NSU after Thomas Flower in 2023 in the 200 free with a 1:34.64.

🏊🏽‍♂️ Weekend Preview 🏊🏼

Two more national champs this week - D1 women, and D3.

Virginia looks poised to take another title for the D1 women. I might be crazy, but I feel like Texas has as good a chance as anyone for the past few years to pull the upset, though. The Lady Hoos are led by the Walsh sisters, whose exploits are well documented. The biggest question might be how fast can younger sister Gretchen go? Can we possibly see a 47 100 fly and a 44 100 free? Virginia is pretty well spread across the board depth-wise, while Texas relies on a couple beastly events - namely Sticklen/Pash/Bray in the flys and Jacoby/Elendt in the breasts. As always, it’s going to come down to the middle parts of the roster - The Aimee Cannys, Reilly Tiltmanns, Tess Howleys of UVA versus Berit Berglunds, Erin Gemmells, Angie Coes of Texas.

Other things to watch here: The Florida duo of Bella Sims and Izzy Ivey leading a resurgent Lady Gators team. Louisville’s sprint mob, with 3 women ranked in the top 8 in the 50 and Arthur Albeiro’s typically effective taper. USC’s medley relays which have been so strong to this point - do they have another gear? Can breakout freshman IM star Caroline Bricker of Stanford improve even more and challenge A Walsh?

The D3 women’s meet looks like another three team battle between Denison, Emory, and Kenyon. Similar to NSU in D2, Denison’s strength lies in their longer freestyles, with 4 top-10 ranked 500 freestylers and 3 in the top 8 of the mile. Kenyon is again led by breaststroker Jennah Fadely, one of the few in non-D1 women in history to break a minute in the 100 breast. Emory’s strongest group is their backstrokers, with 3 in the top-10 in the 200. The next tier features NYU, MIT, and Pomona-Pitzer, featuring the matchup I’m most looking forward to in the sprints, with freshman star MIT’s Ella Roberson, last year’s freshman breakout NYU’s Kaley McIntyre, and P-P’s veteran Alex Turvey the favorites in the 50 and 100, with those three the only 3 women who have been sub-50 in the latter this year.

The men’s meet looks like it’ll be another big win by Emory, the only team with a full roster with 18 men qualified. They’ll be expecting big points in the breaststrokes as usual, strong efforts in the IMs from the Thorsen brothers, and relay hammers from Nick Goudie. Eleven other teams bring at least 10 men, among them NYU might have a leg up with Alabama do-everything transfer Derek Maas, who is swimming the breaststrokes individually but also may be the best backstroker in the division. He looks to break records set by D3 legend and Olympian Andrew Wilson. I’ll also be watching a couple races in particular as Connecticut College’s Justin Finkel tries to take down a couple national record holders - TCNJ’s James McChesney in the 200 free and CMS’s Frank Applebaum in the 200 fly, who are both swimming at their peaks. UChicago’s Jesse Ssengonzi will also be taking a couple more cracks at the 100 fly national record as he’s come achingly close a couple times this year.