In the end there were few surprises. The Oklahoma Baptist women were declared national champions for the second year in a row and SCAD Savannah were runners-up, as they were in 2013. Over the course of the three-day meet, the Lady Bison won six individual events and all five relays. It was more about depth than anything else: they got an astounding 29 championship final, and 9 consolation swims. Even without diving they would have won by 350 points.
The tight race between SCAD and Olivet Nazarene for second never really materialized. The two were even through the middle of Day Two, as the ONU Tigers fairly consistently beat expectations and came up with big morning swims to make finals. But ultimately SCAD got the edge with a few more entrants in both championship and consolation finals all three days and were able to consolidated their position at the top of the list of OBU challengers.
There was drama in the race for fourth, though. Concordia jumped out to an early lead right away with diving points, then were able to build throughout Day One and through the first half of Day Two. But the second day was Brenau’s strongest, and after they followed their high-scoring 100 breast and 100 back finals with a fast 400 medley relay (in which they touched out SCAD by 1/100 for third), they now found themselves with a sliver of a lead over Concordia going into Day Three. Although the score was close on Saturday, Concordia never regained the lead and Brenau ended up in fourth by a mere 3 points.
Whoever said the mile was boring wasn’t sitting in the stands at the OCCC on Saturday night. On paper it seemed there would be a good race between top seed Courtney Hayward of Brenau and 2013 champion Caroline Lepesant of SCAD. The two had traded stroke for stroke in the final of the 500 on Thursday night, until Hayward pulled ahead at the 350 and finished first by 2.5 seconds.
The 1650 began the same way; the two middle lanes were out first and turned together 14 times. Lepesant went slightly ahead at the 400 but Hayward was right on her shoulder. The pair were 5:01 at the 500, only a couple seconds off their championship final times from Thursday. Hayward began to put her legs in at the 750 and just took off. Lepesant trailed by more than a body length but never panicked; she started descending around the 1100 and by the 1200 was a half-body length in front. From there she increased her lead, getting stronger with each 50, and eventually touched at 16:54.23, eight seconds ahead of Hayward. Concordia’s Samantha Leanza dropped ten seconds to finish third.
Top prelims qualifier Talia Sola of Brenau took it out first, flipping at 57.99 at the 100. Ines Remersaro and Alena Titenkova (both of OBU) were about .75 behind and it looked like the Brenau freshman would pick up her first national crown, when out of nowhere Remersaro came roaring back with a third 50 of 30.7 and was able to take the lead by a half-second at the 150. She and Sola evenly split the final 50 and Remersaro won the title 2:01.10 to 2:01.68. Titenkova was third, .40 in front of Cumberlands’ Charlotte Parent.
For the second year in a row Oklahoma Baptist junior Laura Galarza swept the sprint freestyle events. She had already won the 50 on Thursday and the 200 on Friday, and had swum the fastest qualifying time in prelims. Her winning time last year had missed the meet mark by .13 and this year she was going for it. Galarza shot out in a 23.9 and came home in a 26.0 to go under 50 for the first time and break the NAIA record with a 49.97. Union’s Callie Harrigan improved her morning’s standing from fourth to second in 51.46. Andrea Antonissen (OBU) finished third going 51.61.
OBU’s Kerryn Mullin, who had already won the 100 breast the day before, took the 200 out fast. At 1:05.8 for the 100 she was three-quarters of a second ahead of top seed Sydney Harris of ONU. But Harris put up a monster third 50, outsplitting Mullin by 2.3 seconds. She brought it home and got the win, 2:19.55 to Mullin’s 2:22.65. OBU’s Heidi Greener had an outstanding final leg, passing both Jule Stein of Union and Mary Katherine Jabbia of Brenau to finish third.
Tixier of Biola, who had already broken the NAIA record in the 100 fly the day before, won the 200 just short of the meet record with a 2:01.53. Second place went to 2013 national champion Hannah Legg of SCAD, who finished just ahead of OBU’s Jannette Morales.
400 free relay
The last race of the night gave the Lady Bison one last opportunity to rewrite the record books. Galarza (50.69), MacManus (51.38), Antonissen (51.27) and Remersaro (51.67) defended their title and broke the NAIA meet record with a combined 3:25.01. Concordia finished second, a mere .38 ahead of SCAD.
Women’s Swimming & Diving Coach of the Year honors went to Scott Teeters of Olivet Nazarene and Blair Bachman of Brenau. Lisa MacManus of OBU was named Swimmer of the Meet while Biola’s Christine Tixier was chosen as the NAIA Swimmer of the Year. Diver of the Meet went to OBU’s Kristen Brimage.
1 Oklahoma Baptist 849
2 SCAD Savannah 492
3 Olivet Nazarene University 453
4 Brenau University 344
5 Concordia University 341
6 University of the Cumberlands 269
7 Biola University 247
8 Union College 230
9 The College of Idaho 135
10 Lindsey Wilson College 106
National Records Broken at the 2014 Championships
Women’s 100-Yard Freestyle: Laura Galarza, Oklahoma Baptist – 49.97
Women’s 100-Yard Butterfly: Christine Tixier, Biola – 54.35
Women’s 200-Yard Freestyle Relay: Oklahoma Baptist – 1:32.15
Women’s 400-Yard Freestyle Relay: Oklahoma Baptist – 3:25.01
“The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., is a governing body of small athletics programs that are dedicated to character-driven intercollegiate athletics.
In 2000, the NAIA reaffirmed its purpose to enhance the character building aspects of sport. Through Champions of Character, the NAIA seeks to create an environment in which every student-athlete, coach, official and spectator is committed to the true spirit of competition through five core values.”