Beginning last Wednesday, March 18, the NCAA Division III Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships commenced. Trinity sent a total of 10 swimmers and divers to nationals. Competition concluded on Saturday, March 21.
Trinity got off the blocks quickly on day one. All-American Stephen Culberson posted a personal best (20.02) in the 50-yard freestyle, earning him third place. Coming in at 17th, the men’s 200-yard medley relay team just missed Honorable Mention All-American recognition. The team consisted of Culberson, Isaac Johnson, Adam Thomas and Kevin Thomas (1:32.37). After the first day of competition, the men were tied for 13th in team standings.
On the second day, the 200-yard freestyle relay team won the consolation finals (1:21.90). The team of Culberson, Johnson, A. Thomas and K. Thomas received Honorable Mention All-American for their performance.
The Tigers were busy on day four beginning with Culberson in the 100-yard freestyle. Culberson finished second in the event, posting a time of 43.68 seconds.
In the 400 freestyle relay, A. Thomas, Johnson, K. Thomas and Culberson received Honorable Mention All-American recognition for their 14th-place finish (3:03.02). With strong performances across the board, the men secured a 17th-place spot overall at the NCAA Championships.
“It was a week full of ups and downs, and I felt that we showed how hard we’ve worked through our resilience despite having some performances that were perhaps below expectations,” Culberson said. “The guys’ team placed higher than it has ever performed, and individually, while I did not get the two titles I was shooting for, I believe that I did the best possible job of putting myself in a position to win as I could, and I’m proud of that.”
The Tiger women matched the men with their strong start. All-American Danielle Freund came in fifth on the 3-meter board for diving (462.35). In the same event, Sarah Kate Mrkonich earned Honorable Mention All-American with her 15th-place finish.
Lydia Jones also received Honorable Mention accolades with her 16th-place finish in the 50-yard freestyle. In the consolation finals, she posted a time of 23.82 seconds.
Lindsay Hagmann was the third-fastest first year in the event, finishing 29th overall (23.87). The women’s 200-yard medley relay team finished 26th (1:50.69). The team was comprised of L. Jones, Hagmann, Bethany Rysak and Lauren Cuda.
The women’s 200-yard relay team just missed the cut for Honorable Mention All-American recognition by .08 seconds. Hagmann, Cuda, L. Jones and Rysak posted a time of 1:35.63 to finish 17th.
Day three was devoted to diving. With strong performances from Freund and Mrkonich in the 1-meter board, both divers emerged Honorable Mention All-Americans. The duo finished 10th (Freund) and 11th (Mrkonich) with scores of 401.80 and 390.85, respectively.
On the final day of competition, L. Jones finished 16th in the 100 freestyle (51.64) and earned Honorable Mention All-American.
The team of L. Jones, Hagmann, Cuda and Rysak later went on to place 22nd in the 400 freestyle relay. After four days of hard work, the women finished 25th overall at nationals, with 31 points.
“When I think back to my freshman year, I realize that our program has made giant leaps forward in just a few years,” L. Jones said. “We are nowhere near the same team that we were back then; our team is more serious, competitive and successful than ever before.”
Trinity finished with both men and women’s teams in the top 25 at nationals in back-to-back years.
“We took the most athletes to the meet in school history, including four seniors, who we will truly miss, but also one sophomore and five first years,” said assistant swim coach Michael Schuber. “While NCAA Championships rarely go perfectly, we have a young team garnering valuable experience and laying the groundwork for even better team performances in the future.”