Kendra Stern Wins 200-Yard Freestyle to Lead Amherst on Day Two of NCAA Championships

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Sophomore Kendra Stern (Albuquerque, NM) was crowned a national champion in the 200-yard freestyle for the second time in as many years to lead Amherst College on day two of the 2009 NCAA Division III Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving Championships. The four-day event, which is hosted by Macalester College at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center, continues on Friday.

Stern's victory bumped the Amherst women up to fifth place in the team standings with 110.5 points, while the Amherst men moved up one spot to seventh (91 points), just six points behind fifth-place Grove City College. The Lord Jeff women trail fourth-place Williams by 104 points. 

Stern came up just short of breaking her own national record of 1:47.19, which she set at last year's NCAA Championships. Her time of 1:47.67 was still good enough for first place, with older sister Meaghan Stern (Albuquerque, NM) close behind in third place at 1:50.32. Meaghan placed second in the 200 last year with a time of 1:50.34. 

Amherst's best finish on the men's side was also the 200-yard freestyle, with sophomore Alex Fraser (Willowbrook, IL) finishing in second place with a time of 1:37.48, just half of a second behind the national record and only 0.28 seconds behind David Curtis of Denison. Senior Christian Witzke (Jacksonville, FL) placed 11th at 1:40.14. 

Witzke and Fraser teamed up in the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 400-yard medley relay, placing 14th in each event. With junior Tad Homchick (Mercer Island, WA) and first-year Ben McBratney (Evanston, IL) rounding out the 200 free squad, the Jeffs swam a 1:23.08 in their first race of the day. To close out the evening, Fraser and Witzke teamed up with sophomore Reid Fitzgerald (New York, NY) and first-year Mike O'Connor (Cold Spring Harbor, NY) to finish the 400 medley in 3:23.83.

Rounding out Amherst's top performances on the men's side were first-year Ryan Lichtenfels (McLean, VA) in the 400-yard individual medley and senior Kai Robinson (Vashon, WA) in the 1-meter dive. While Lichtenfels placed 11th with a 3:58.37, Robinson recorded a score of 494.30 to finish fourth. Robinson had won the national title in last year's 1-meter event but was unable to defend his crown. The senior diver will compete in the 3-meter dive on Saturday. 

The Stern sisters teamed up with seniors Mary Marvel (Williamsburg, MA) and Erin Morrison (Old Greenwich, CT) to place fifth in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:35.17). Marvel and Morrison later joined first-year Rebecca Kelley (Richmond, VA) and junior Kendall Dacey (West Roxbury, MA) to finish 16th in the 400-yard medley relay with a time of 3:57.37.

The Amherst women got an 11th-place finish in the 400 IM from senior tri-captain Kara MacLaverty (Kenilworth, IL), who swam a 4:30.82. Three Lord Jeffs took part in the 100-yard butterfly, as Dacey, sophomore Brooke Bennett (Arcadia, CA) and Marvel were separated by only 0.52 seconds, with Dacey leading the pack in 15th place.

Amherst College Day Two Women's Results
200-yard freestyle relay
Mary Marvel, Kendra Stern, Erin Morrison, Meaghan Stern – 5th (1:35.17)

400-yard individual medley 
Kara MacLaverty – 11th (4:30.82)

100-yard butterfly
Kendall Dacey – 15th (57.27)
Brooke Bennett – 19th (57.65)
Mary Marvel – 22nd (57.79)

200-yard freestyle
Kendra Stern – 1st (1:47.67)
Meaghan Stern – 3rd (1:50.32)
Alex Lee – 18th (1:52.90)

400-yard medley relay
Mary Marvel, Rebecca Kelley, Kendall Dacey, Erin Morrison – 16th (3:57.37)

Amherst College Day Two Men's Results
200-yard freestyle relay
Tad Homchick, Christian Witzke, Ben McBratney, Alex Fraser – 14th (1:23.08)

400-yard individual medley
Ryan Lichtenfels – 11th (3:58.37)
Ben McBratney – 35th (51.32)
Tad Homchick – 40th (51.55)

200-yard freestyle 
Alex Fraser – 2nd (1:37.48)
Christian Witzke – 11th (1:40.14)
Tim White – 31st (1:42.26)

1-meter diving
Kai Robinson – 4th (494.30)

400-yard medley relay
Reid Fitzgerald, Mike O'Connor, Christian Witzke, Alex Fraser – 14th (3:23.83)