Lords' national title streak in swimming reaches nineteen
Kenyon's annual quest for a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship in men's swimming and diving is not as much about winning, as it is about improvement, continued improvement that produces a new level of satisfaction in performance.
Coach Jim Steen has seen that kind of improvement for eighteen consecutive years, resulting in a team effort that has been virtually unsinkable.
He saw it again in the St. Peter's Recplex in St. Louis, Missouri, where the Lords turned in one improved effort after another en route to winning a nineteenth straight Division III championship, an unprecedented NCAA championship streak in any sport in any division.
That improvement was reflected in Kenyon's final team score of 726 points, a new Division III record. The Lords' final point total topped the previous record of 689.5 points set in 1997. Kenyon has eclipsed its own point total in six of the past eleven years.
The Lords won eleven of twenty events, including four of five relays, and set four Division III records to dominate the competition. The runners-up, from the University of California at San Diego, compiled 395 points. Kenyon had scored 487 points after the second of three nights of competition.
"If you had a standout performance in this meet, then you really accomplished something," said Steen, who has now guided the Lords and Ladies to a combined thirty-four consecutive national swimming and diving championships.
Kenyon accomplished many things, for that matter, including sweeping the freestyle events for the first time in Division III history. Senior Ken Heis was a seahorse in that effort, winning two individual freestyle events himself and helping the Lords to victories in four relays, including all three freestyle races.
Heis recorded Kenyon's first victory in the 100 since 1992 when he touched the wall in a time of :44.34, the second fastest time in Division III history. He was part of the 200 and 400 relays that established Division III record ties of 1:19.44 and 2:57.98, respectively, and he set the new Division III standard in the 50 at :19.94. He became only the second male in small-college history to break the twenty-second mark.
Torsten Seifert was one of those seniors, who turned in a stellar effort in the most gruelling race in the competition, the 1,650 freestyle. Seifert stroked into the lead halfway in the race and built on it en route to winning the event in a time of 15:52.57, extending Kenyon's victory streak in the event to an incredible eight consecutive years. It was Seifert's third victory in the race, marking him as only the third swimmer in Division III history to win the event three times.
Junior John Newland and first-year Lord Tom Rushton were part of that effort, helping in the sweep of the freestyle events. Newland recorded his first win in the 200 (1:40.52) and Rushton won for the first time in the 500 (4:32.99).
Senior Pedro Monteiro provided Kenyon with two victories, highlighted by his fourth win in the 200 butterfly in a time of 1:45.38, the second fastest time in Division III history. He also became only the third male in Division III history to win the same event four times, and only the fifteenth overall in NCAA history.
Monteiro won for the second consecutive year in the 100 backstroke (:50.59) and took part in Kenyon's winning effort in the 200 medley relay in a Division III record time of 1:30.57. Heis was also on that relay, along with sophomore Colby Genrich and first-year Lord Lloyd Baron.
Baron emerged as a key figure in Kenyon's relays, as he also swam for the Lords in the 200 and 400 freestyle units. Senior Justin Thoms and sophomore Darrick Bollinger were part of the 200 relay, senior Nathan Gardner and Thoms contributed in the 400, and Gardner, Bollinger, and Newland rounded out the foursome in the 800.
Baron, Bollinger, and Thoms were also part of the historic showing in the 50 freestyle. Not only did Heis win that event in a record time of :19:94, but Baron, Bollinger, and Thoms all tied for the runner-up spot in a time of :20.51, a first in Kenyon history.
In addition to the eleven first-place finishes, Kenyon also recorded seven runner-up finishes and four third-place showings to pile up the record point total. Baron recorded two of the runner-up showings, in the 50 (:20.51) and 100 (:45.27) freestyles, and Rushton recorded two, in the 200 backstroke (1:49.70) and the 400 individual medley (3:57.86). Senior Robin Blume-Kohout was second in the 200 butterfly (1:49.71).
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