2018 NAIA National Championships – Women’s Meet
- Dates: Wednesday, February 28 – Saturday, March 3; prelims 9 am, finals 5 pm
- Location: Columbus Aquatic Center, Columbus, Georgia (Eastern Time Zone)
- Defending Champions: Olivet Nazarene University (results)
- Psych Sheet
- Live Results: Available here
- Live Video: Available here
- Championship Central
The 2018 NAIA Women’s Swimming and Diving National Championship will kick off on Wednesday, February 28 in Columbus, Georgia. Sponsored by the Columbus Sports Council at the Columbus Aquatic Center, the meet will bring together over 200 athletes from 29 schools to compete in this national championship.
The NAIA, which governs the athletic programs of smaller colleges and universities, has sponsored men’s swimming and diving since 1957 and women’s swimming and diving since 1981. Currently, 27 institutions field men’s teams and 32 sponsor women’s teams. Olivet Nazarene University men’s and women’s teams are the defending champions. The Tigers won their first-ever women’s title in 2017, while the men’s program captured its second-straight banner.
The 2018 women’s championship meet looks to be a close one, with 2016 champion Savannah College leading the psych sheet over 2017 champion ONU. While it’s difficult to seed the meet, since many teams haven’t yet had the chance to swim fully tapered (unlike NCAA swimmers going into their championships), we have tried to predict outcomes based on last year’s results in conjunction with this year’s top times.
Only a handful of teams in the NAIA have the capability to support divers, and newcomers St. Ambrose University is by far and away the favorite in women’s diving this year. Both Andrea Adam and Taylor Madison come in with 1m and 3m diving scores that exceed last year’s by a significant margin.
While ONU’s Leanne Latocha is the highest-finishing returner in the 50 free, and College of Idaho’s Madison Kelly is the top swimmer from the 2017 final of the women’s 100 free, it’s Lindsey Wilson’s Alexis Kessler who comes in with the top qualifying times of 23.4 and 51.12 in those respective events. Suzanna Gonzalez, a senior from Morningside College, tops the field with the leading time in the 500 free (5:02.28) and 1650 free (17:19.28), and is expected to land in the top 8 in the 200 free. She finished 2nd in the 500, 3rd in the mile, and 5th in the 200 free last year. SCAD Savannah freshman April O’Gorman is seeded 2nd in the mile, 3rd in the 500, and 10th in the 200 free.
ONU senior Amanda Moran, who won both the 100 back and 200 back last year, is the favorite in this year’s backstroke events. Moran blew away the meet record in the 200 back last year, touching in 1:56.87. She is seeded third in that event behind Christina Klouda of Cumberlands and Lindsay Dowling of Brenau. Klouda and Dowling were A-finalists in the 200 back last year; Dowling also finished top-8 in the 100 back.
SCAD junior Sara Lacusky won both the 100 breast and 200 breast in 2017, and is the top seed in both events this year with seed times of 1:04.49 and 2:19.71, respectively. ONU’s Andrea Vega will challenge Lacusky in both events; she was runner-up to Lacusky last year by 9/10 in the 100 breast and 8/10 in the 200 breast. Caroline Yannelli from College of Idaho and Julia Hnidenko from Cumberlands will also be in the mix.
ONU senior Moran, runner-up in 2017 in the 100 fly, will try to take the national title in her final year. SCAD’s Lydia Reinhardt and Cadie Crow, 3rd and 4th in this event in 2017, will provide competition for Moran. Lindsey Wilson’s Kessler comes in with the top time of 56.37, followed by Cumberlands freshman Mendy De Rooi (56.46). Reinhardt (2:03.48) has the top seed time in the 200 fly, followed by Marie Geck of Lindenwood-Belleville and SCAD’s Rebecca Justus and Crow.
2017 runner-up in the 200 IM, Lacusky of SCAD, will seek to win the title this year. But she will be challenged by Lindsey Wilson sophomore Jessica Macdonald, seeded #1 (2:08.01), ONU’s Vega, and Klouda of Cumberlands. In the 400 IM, last year’s runner-up Justus is the top seed with 4:29.99. She is followed by Klouda, Brenau freshman Nikoletta Alvanou, and Keiser sophomore Annamaria Zombai, all of whom have a good shot at the national title.
The top ten teams, scored more-or-less from the psych sheet, are as follows:
- SCAD Savannah
- Olivet Nazarene University
- University of the Cumberlands
- Keiser University
- Lindsey Wilson College
- Brenau University
- The College of Idaho
- Asbury University
- Lindenwood University-Belleville
- Loyola University of New Orleans
800 Freestyle Relay
200 Free Relay
200 Individual Medley
400 Medley Relay
1 Meter Diving (Women)
200 Medley Relay
3-Meter Diving (Women & Men)
1 Meter Diving (Men)
400 Freestyle Relay
“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.”