AMHERST, MA – Amherst College is sending 20 student-athletes to the 2009 NCAA Division III Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving Championships, which will be held at the University of Minnesota's University Aquatic Center in Minneapolis. Hosted by Macalester College, the national championships are set to begin Wednesday, Mar. 18 and conclude Saturday, Mar. 21.
Fans can follow live results, watch a live webcast, view photo galleries and more at the Macalester College Website.
On the women's side, Amherst will rely on its strong senior class of Meaghan Stern, Mary Marvel, Kara MacLaverty, Alex Lee, Erin Morrison and Sabrina Dorman. Stern was a part of two national records at last year's NCAA Championships, as she swam the final leg of the winning 400- and 800-yard freestyle relay teams. Lee joined Stern in the 800 relay, while Morrison swam the third leg of the 400.
Stern will also try her luck in the individual freestyle races after she placed second in the 200, sixth in the 500 and 13th in the 100 at last year's national championships. Lee and MacLaverty will each compete in the 200-yard backstroke and the 500-yard freestyle, with MacLaverty also swimming the 400-yard individual medley and Lee joining Stern in the 200 freestyle.
After an impressive showing at the NESCAC Championships, Marvel will provide significant depth in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles, the 100-yard butterfly and the relay races. Dorman, who will be making her first appearance on the national stage, placed third in the 1-meter dive and fifth in the 3-meter at this year's conference championships.
Kendall Dacey will be Amherst's lone junior competing this weekend, taking part in the 100- and 200-yard butterfly events and the medley relays. Dacey's best race at the NESCAC Championships was her 100 fly, in which she placed second with a time of 57.51. Joining Dacey in the butterfly races will be sophomore Brooke Bennett, who will also take part in the relay events.
Rounding out the sophomore class is Kendra Stern, who swam the first leg of the national record-breaking 400- and 800-yard freestyle relay teams at last year's NCAA Championships in addition to joining her sister and Ellen Fitzgerald to win the 400 medley relay. Kendra also won an individual freestyle event on each day of last year's championship, setting national records in the 500-yard freestyle and the 200-yard freestyle on day one and day two, respectively, before winning the 100-yard freestyle on the final day.
Amherst's lone first-year making the trip to Minnesota is Rebecca Kelley, who will join the medley relay teams and swim the 100-yard breaststroke. At the NESCAC Championships, Kelley swam a provisional qualifying time of 1:07.57 during the 100-yard breaststroke preliminaries.
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP WEBSITECompeting in their final NCAA Championships on the men's side are seniors Kai Robinson and Christian Witzke. Robinson has been the most dominant diver in the NESCAC during his two years with the Lord Jeffs, and this week will look to defend his national titles in the 1- and 3-meter events. Robinson was named last year's NCAA Diver of the Meet for earning a 499.75 on the 1-meter board on the first day of competition before his 535.55 won him the 3-meter event on the final day.
Witzke will join the relay teams in addition to competing in the 100- and 200-yard freestyle races. At last year's NCAA Championships Witzke swam the final leg of Amherst's fifth-place 800-yard freestyle relay team before helping the 400 relay team place fourth. Junior Tad Homchick was also a part of last year's 400 freestyle relay and will once again look to contribute to Amherst's relays, in addition to swimming the 50- and 100-yard butterfly events.
Sophomore Alex Fraser will hope to repeat his dominant performances from this year's NESCAC Championships, during which he was crowned a conference champion in five events. Fraser's top individual performance at last year's NCAA Championships was his third-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle, which he will look to improve upon this year in addition to swimming the 100- and 500-yard freestyles.
Reid Fitzgerald rounds out the sophomore class and will compete in the 100- and 200-yard backstroke, 200-yard individual medley and the medley relay races.
First-years Tim White, Ryan Lichtenfels, Bart Federak, Ben McBratney and Mike O'Connor will all look to continue their impressive debut seasons. Lichtenfels was dominant at the NESCAC Championships, during which he won the 400 IM and set a NESCAC, meet and pool record with his time of 15:25.99 in the 1,650-yard freestyle. Lichtenfels will also join a strong 800 relay team and will join Fraser in the 500 freestyle.
Federak, McBratney and O'Connor will each represent Amherst in the breaststroke events, with McBratney also swimming the 100 butterfly and Federak taking part in the 200 IM. White will join Fitzgerald in the 200 backstroke in addition to swimming the 200 and 500 freestyles.
With exceptional relay teams and depth across the board for each Amherst team, the Lord Jeffs will be fighting for a pair of top-five finishes this week. The Amherst women have finished as the runners-up in each of the past two years, while the men placed 10th a year ago to finish second among NESCAC schools.