2020 NAIA Women’s Nationals Fan Guide: SCAD Poised for a Three-peat

2020 NAIA Women’s Swimming & Diving National Championship

The 40th Annual NAIA Women’s Swimming and Diving National Championship will get underway tomorrow with swimmers and divers from 34 teams and 265 individual entries. After being hosted by the Columbus Aquatic Center in Columbus, Georgia for four years, the meet moves to the University of Tennessee’s Allan Jones Aquatic Center in Knoxville. 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. The championship will consist of a four-day program with 20 events for each gender.

Double defending champion Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, GA) and 2019 runner-up Keiser University (Fort Lauderdale, FL) will each field a full roster of 18, while University of the Cumberlands (Williamsburg, KY) has qualified 16 athletes. There will be a number of new teams at the meet this year: Lincoln College (Lincoln, IL), Simpson University (Redding, CA), Sterling College (Sterling, KS), Westmont College (Santa Barbara, CA), and Williams Baptist University (Walnut Ridge, AR).

SCAD (national champions in 2016, 2018, and 2019) will return individual event winners Spencer Sheridan (200 free) and Lydia Reinhardt (200 fly). The Bees are ranked #1 in all five relays. Keiser University will have Anna Herbst (100 back champion) along with most of last year’s roster. Both SCAD and Keiser had very strong freshmen classes in 2018-19 so we can expect this rivalry to go on for several more years. Cumberlands will have another year with top performer Mendy De Rooi (500 free, 100 fly, and 100 free champion) but the Patriots’ real strength looks to be their very fast and deep freshman class. Olivet Nazarene University (Bourbonnais, IL), who won the national team title in 2017, will once again feature Karla Islas (400 IM and 1650 free champion).

While defending champion SCAD Savannah leads the psych sheet, 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.

Stars

Diving

Only a handful of teams in the NAIA have the capability to support divers. St. Ambrose University returns three-time national champion Andrea Adam and three-time runner-up Taylor Madison. Cumberlands, Lincoln, ONU, College of Idaho, and The Master’s University are the other teams that field divers.

Freestyle

SCAD could dominate the sprint freestyle events this year. The Bees have depth but they also have a strong sophomore who transferred in from UIndy this season: Sloan Sizemore. Sizemore is seeded 1st in the 50 free (23.19) and 100 free and second, behind De Rooi, in the 200 free (1:51.41). (De Rooi, however, is also top seed in the 100 fly which she won last year, so for modeling purposes we counted her in the fly.) Sizemore and De Rooi should face off in the 100 free, though, where they are seeded with 51.22 and 51.35, respectively. SCAD’s Anna Kate McGinty (23.76) and Sheridan (23.81), both sophomores, are also contenders in the 50 free. Keiser’s Elianna Kennon (23.54) and Emma Augustsson (24.08) round out the top 5 seeds. In the 100, Sizemore and De Rooi are followed by Sheridan (51.43), Kennon (51.63), and Lindsey Wilson senior Jessica Macdonald (51.68). Augustsson (1:51.79) and her freshman teammate Karina Braathen (1:53.61) are among the fastest seeds in the 200 free with Macdonald (1:53.84) and SCAD freshman Emily Elz (1:54.16). Sheridan is also entered in the 200 free (1:51.86), which she swam last year, but we scored her in the top 5 of the 100 back, where SCAD has less depth.

De Rooi is seeded first in the 500 free (5:00.99), more than 5 seconds faster than Keiser’s Stefania Sofoulis (5:06.12). SCAD’s April O’Gorman (5:10.06) and Abigail Tankersley (5:10.13) are poised to repeat their A-final appearances of 2019, and teammate Grayson Reynolds (5:10.98) hopes to join them. Keiser’s Sofoulis (17:16.49) leads the qualifiers in the mile by 10.5 seconds, with defending champion Islas (17:27.93) followed by O’Gorman (17:45.74), Paige Carter of Loyola New Orleans (17:48.67), and Shelby Miller from The Master’s University (17:52.79).

Backstroke

Defending champion Herbst of Keiser comes in with a seed time (56.86) that is two-tenths faster than her winning time last year (57.07). (Teammate Augustsson is #2 seed on the psych sheet, but she is also second in the 200 free so we scored her there, thinking she had a better shot at the title.) SCAD sophomores Allie Rassenfoss (57.47) and Sheridan (57.96) are seeded in the top 5, as are Life freshman Dora Reizinger (57.84) and Midland sophomore Nerissa Wagner (58.08).

Reizinger tops the qualifiers in the 200 back with 2:03.18. She is followed by Cumberlands freshman Maria Basto (2:05.34), Brenau senior Yanne Toussaint (2:06.33), Rassenfoss (2:06.61), and Loyola New Orleans junior Kamy Alexander (2:07.97). (Keiser’s Herbst was entered in the 200 back with the #2 seed time but we made the assumption she would swim in the 200 fly, like she did last year.)

Breaststroke

The breaststroke events are wide open this year, after years of domination from 2019 seniors from SCAD and ONU. Cumberlands junior Julia Hnidenko, who has finished in the top 3 in both the 100 and 200 breast events over the last two years, is among the breaststrokers to watch in the 100 (1:04.88) and 200 (2:21.95). Freshman Lillian Thurber (1:05.42) of Life and Ali Sippel (1:05.47) of SCAD are seeded in the top 5 of the 100. They are followed by SCAD sophomore Sarah Scargill (1:06.37) and Vivienne Kunkler (1:06.41) of the Bethel Pilots.

SCAD freshman Isabella Song is ranked 1st on the psych sheet in the 200 breast with 2:19.70. (She also leads the 100 breast qualifiers with 1:03.42 but we scored her in the 400 IM where she is 1st by nearly 5 seconds.) Keiser’s Ori Freibach (2:21.12), College of Idaho’s Caroline Yannelli (2:21.52), Hnidenko (2:21.95), and Thurber (2:22.57) will challenge Song.

Butterfly

Cumberlands junior De Rooi (54.51) is top seed in the 100 fly by nearly a full second over Keiser’s Herbst (55.45). Indiana Wesleyan sophomore Sydney Darnell, who finished third behind De Rooi and Herbst last year, is seeded 3rd with 55.72. SCAD freshman Thea Brandauer (56.69) and Keiser freshman Noelia Garzon (56.76) round out the top 5.

SCAD senior Reinhardt, who won this event last year, is the top seed in the 200 fly with 2:04.26. Herbst ranks 2nd with 2:04.56, followed by Brandauer (2:06.74), Garzon (2:07.21), and Keiser junior Anna Lofton (2:08.46).

Individual Medley

Freibach of Keiser comes in with the top time in the 200 IM (2:05.06), ranked just ahead of SCAD’s Song (2:05.49), Indiana Wesleyan’s Darnell (2:05.80), SCAD’s Brandauer (2:07.19), and Lindsey Wilson’s Macdonald (2:08.85).

Song has the edge in the 400 IM with a seed time of 4:31.33. Loyola’s Carter (4:36.23) ranks second, with Kaiser’s Gaja Kristan (4:36.89) and Lofton (4:38.04) and Indiana Wesleyan’s Linnea Holmgren (4:39.29) making up the rest of the top 5. Defending champion Islas of ONU (4:39.63) is seeded 6th.

Team Race

The top teams, scored more-or-less from the psych sheet, are as follows:

  1. SCAD Savannah 711
  2. Keiser University 641
  3. University of the Cumberlands 416
  4. Brenau University 223
  5. Life University 218
  6. Olivet Nazarene University 211
  7. Indiana Wesleyan University 205
  8. Loyola New Orleans 173
  9. Lindsey Wilson College 150
  10. Asbury University 149
  11. College of Idaho 144
  12. Ambrose University 83
  13. Lincoln College 74
  14. College of Saint Mary 56
  15. Milligan College 47

4-DAY SCHEDULE

Wednesday:
800 Freestyle Relay

Thursday:
200 Free Relay
500 Freestyle
200 Individual Medley
50 Freestyle
400 Medley Relay
1 Meter Diving (Women)

Friday:
200 Medley Relay
400 IM
100 Fly
200 Freestyle
100 Breaststroke
100 Backstroke
3-Meter Diving (Women & Men)

Saturday:
1-Meter Diving (Men)
1650 Freestyle
200 Backstroke
100 Freestyle
200 Breaststroke
200 Butterfly
1 Meter Diving (Men)
400 Freestyle Relay

2019 NAIA National Champions

Event   Winner
1 1m Diving Andrea Adam, St. Ambrose 234.20
3 3m Diving Andrea Adam, St. Ambrose 222.00
5 800 Free Relay SCAD 7:32.57
7 200 Free Relay SCAD 1:35.78
9 500 Free Mendy De Rooi, Cumberlands 4:58.82
11 200 IM Andrea Vega, ONU 2:05.06
13 50 Free Jessica Axford, Union 23.66
15 400 Medley Relay Cumberlands 3:48.58
17 200 Medley Relay Keiser 1:43.86
19 400 IM Karla Islas, ONU 4:26.46
21 100 Fly Mendy De Rooi, Cumberlands 54.41
23 200 Free Spencer Sheridan, SCAD 1:50.85
25 100 Breast Andrea Vega, ONU 1:03.25
27 100 Back Anna Herbst, Keiser 57.07
29 1650 Free Karla Islas, ONU 17:18.54
31 200 Back Christina Klouda, Cumberlands 2:02.85
33 100 Free Mendy De Rooi, Cumberlands 51.45
35 200 Breast Andrea Vega, ONU 2:17.43
37 200 Fly Lydia Reinhardt, SCAD 2:04.23
39 400 Free Relay Keiser 3:29.28

2019 NAIA National Final Results (top 10 women’s teams)

  1. SCAD Savannah 638.5
  2. Keiser University 477.5
  3. University of the Cumberlands 392.5
  4. Olivet Nazarene University 306.5
  5. College of Idaho 242
  6. Loyola New Orleans 181
  7. Indiana Wesleyan University 176
  8. Lindsey Wilson College 175
  9. Lindenwood Belleville 171.5
  10. Brenau University 149

“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.”

 

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About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swim/swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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