Sports Editor

The rosters are set and the pre-tournament rankings are out. Denison swimming and diving teams are gearing up for the NCAA Division III swimming championships, set to be held March 16 through 19.

By no means do the rankings indicate where swimmers will finish, but nonetheless it determines the lanes for the preliminary sessions of the meet. If every swimmer at the National Championships finishes where they are placed in the rankings then Denison’s men will finish second, behind Kenyon College, and the women will finish third behind Emory University and Kenyon.

For the men, scoring out the rankings gives Kenyon a final score of 404, with Denison trailing behind by just 15 points with 389. Last year the psych sheet projected Denison would score 350 points, behind Kenyon’s 488 scored rankings. Denison came in second, but closed the gap on Kenyon, scoring 33 more points than projected. Kenyon slipped down 20 points, but still claimed the first place trophy with a final score of 468-383.

The Denison men have the benefit of a full roster at Nationals this year – 17 swimmers and three divers. The squad also has benefit of depth – there is a Big Red swimmer or diver entered in every single event offered at the meet. The only event without at least two athletes entered is the 100-yard backstroke, where Jason Wesseling ‘18 holds the 10 seed, though he is separated from the third seed by only 0.3 seconds.

The deepest event for the men is the 200 freestyle – there are 8 men who are entered to swim the event. Also, diving stands to once again come out on top, with Max Levy ‘17, Ben Lewis ‘16, and Brian Allen ‘17 seeded first through third in both the one meter and three meter springboard events. A sweep of both events by the divers could contribute a total of 106 points to the Big Red’s tally.

Jack Lindell ‘17 has a chance to score big points in his individual events. He is seeded first in the 400 yard individual medley and the 200 yard backstroke. He also holds the second seed in the 200 yard individual medley. Ryan Fleming ‘16 also stands to place high for the Big Red, seeded fourth, fifth and tenth in the tightly packed sprint freestyle events.

Worth twice the points as the individual events, Denison’s biggest chances to move up on first-seed Kenyon come in the relay events. The 200 freestyle relay is seeded fifth at 1:21.42, just 0.81 seconds behind first seeded Kenyon’s squad. Touching first would be worth a whopping 12 more points than finishing fifth, just three points shy of the current seed difference between Denison and Kenyon. A well-fought battle against the Lords could very possibly bring a National Title back to Denison.

If the pre-tournament rankings were scored today, Denison University women would place third with a seed-score of 383, behind first seeded Emory University (479) and second seed Kenyon College (404). Not far behind the pack is fourth seed Williams College with a current projected 365 on the psych sheet.

The Denison women have some top seeds as well as big opportunities to move up and score points. Among the potential top scorers for the women, Campbell Costley ‘17 is seeded second in the 500 yard freestyle wih  4:50.51, just two seconds behind Angela Newlon. Last year at Nationals Costley outswam Newon in prelims but ended up placing just behind her in Finals, earning a fifth place finish for the Big Red.

Carolyn Kane ‘17 is seeded fourth in the 50-yard freestyle with a 23.17. She will have an opportunity race her longtime friend and former high school teammate, Emma Paulson, who is seeded first with a time of 22.86.

Not far behind Kane are teammates Mary Van Luven ‘16 and Ashley Yearwood ‘16, seeded 12th and 14th, respectively. The Women’s 50 freestyle is particularly close, first and 16th place are separated by six tenths of a second.

Carolyn Kane also holds the second seed in the 100 freestyle. She is just 0.05 seconds behind the top seed, Fiona Muir, a freshman at Emory.  In the same event, Mary Van Leuven is seeded 8th with a 50.91, and Ashley Yearwood is entering in the 20 spot for the big red with a 51.29.

Denison’s relays are expected to shine, the 200 yard medley relay and the 200 and 400 yard freestyle relays are all seeded first. The 800 freestyle relay is seeded 3rd and the 400 yard medley relay is seeded 5th.

In the 200 breaststroke Marissa Bednarek ‘16 and Marisa Pulaski ‘18 are seeded sixth and eighth, respectively.

The women’s mile is also stacked with Taylor Johns ‘16 and Costley  seeded fifth and seventh respectively. The duo are no strangers to racing each other. Last year Costley lead the pair to a 5-6 finish at NCAA’s.