While most students were enjoying their spring breaks, the Pomona-Pitzer swim team was putting on a strong performance at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in Shenandoah, Texas.
They entered the meet with the main goal of equaling their performances at the SCIAC meet three weeks prior to the championships, and enjoying the overall experience of competing at the highest level against some of the best swimmers in the country.
The Sagehens sent ten swimmers to the championships, which spanned from March 15 to March 18. All ten also earned All-American times during the meet.
Maddie Kauahi PZ ’19 represented the team in the 100-meter freestyle, setting a P-P record for the event with a time of 50.77 in the preliminaries, and finishing eighth overall in the event. Head Coach John-Paul Gowdy listed her performance as one of the highlights of the meet.
Sarah Jin PO ’18 set her own program record in the 100-meter backstroke, winning the consolation heat with a time of 55.51, and she also competed in the 200-meter backstroke as well.
The men’s 400 freestyle relay, comprised of Adrian Hui PO ’19, Mark Hallman PO ’18, Ryan Drover PZ ’19, and Samuel To PO ’18, also set a program record with a time of 3:01.18, which earned them a 13th place finish. The men’s 200 freestyle relay also put forth a legendary performance, finishing fifth overall and setting a program record of 1:21.70 in the prelims with swimmers Hui, Hallman, Drover, and To.
It was the “highest finish by a P-P swimming relay at the NCAA Championships since the 1990’s,” Gowdy wrote in an email to TSL.
The men’s 800 freestyle relay finished 13th with a time of 6:44.00, swam by Will Abele PO ’20, Zach Senator PO ’20, To, and Hallman. The men’s team finished 18th overall, which is the best finish for the men’s team since the 1980’s.
Going into their races, the strategies for each swimmer differed based on the distance and type of event, but one thing remained the same for all athletes.
“In general, our athletes were prepared to execute their race plan in the first half of the race (and try not to let the big moment affect them too much), then focus on racing the other competitors in the 2nd half of their race” Gowdy wrote.
He also commented on one of the key reasons for the team success, writing that “many things worked well, but one in particular and in relation to NCAAs, we were lucky enough to have three returning men and three returning women at the NCAA meet. I think their experience helped them perform well and helped provide know-how for our first-time swimmers at NCAAs.”
The Sagehens have reason to look forward to a similarly successful season next year as well, with all their swimmers returning.
“None of our NCAA swimmers are [graduating], so the future bodes well for us,” Gowdy wrote. “However, next year is a long way off and for now we’ll just enjoy the great performances we had this past week.”