Stern Sets Another Record; Amherst Teams Remain in Top 10

KNOXVILLE, TN – Led by another record-setting performance from Kendra Stern '11 (Albuquerque, NM), Amherst College stuck with the front of the pack after day two of the NCAA Division III Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving Championships. 

Stern was crowned a national champion in the 200-yard freestyle in each of her first three years at Amherst, and she made number four look easy on Thursday. Her time of 1:44.82 was not only good enough to surpass her own national record of 1:45.31, which she set at last year's national meet, but it was more than four seconds ahead of the runner-up, Alyssa Swanson '13 of Denison (1:48.89). 

Thursday's dominant win marked the ninth individual NCAA title of Stern's career. She will go for number 10 on Saturday when she defends her crown in the 100-yard freestyle, an event in which she is the national record holder (48.98). 

Also adding to an impeccable résumé on Thursday was Alex Fraser '11 (Willowbrook, IL), who placed in the top three in the 200-yard freestyle for a fourth consecutive year. Fraser placed third in the event in 2008 (1:39.27), second in 2009 (1:37.48) and first in 2010 (1:38.34), and he would finish third on Thursday with a time of 1:38.47. Close behind at 1:38.57 was Ryan Lichtenfels '12 (McLean, VA), who placed 10th after winning Wednesday's 500-yard freestyle.  

Stern and Fraser also helped Amherst put in a pair of strong showings in the 400-yard medley relays. Fraser anchored the men's relay by swimming the freestyle leg in 44.02, as he joined co-captain Reid Fitzgerald '11 (New York, NY), Ben McBratney '12 (Evanston, IL) and Tyler Bulakul '14 (Bangkok, Thailand) to finish third with a time of 3:18.76, which was good enough for a new school and NESCAC record. Fitzgerald's backstroke leg of 49.88 also marked a new team record, surpassing the previous standard of 50.43 (Rick Estacio, 2006).  

Stern was one of only two swimmers to break 50 seconds in the freestyle leg of the women's medley relay (49.60), with Emily Swett '13 (Rochester, NY), Abby Hahn '14 (New York, NY) and Allison Merz '14 (Los Angeles, CA) handling the first three legs for what was an impressive showing by the young Amherst group.

Merz would also singlehandedly account for four team points by placing 13th in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 56.82, but it was her preliminary heat time of 56.25 that bested the previous school record, which was set by Piper Pettersen back in 2007 (56.82). 

After the second day of events, Amherst sits tied for seventh place (97 points) on the men's side and is ninth (67 points) on the women's. Women's defending champion Emory (320 points) holds a comfortable lead over runner-up Denison (225 points), while 31-time defending men's champion Kenyon (258) is beginning to pull away from Denison (217). 

Competition will resume Friday at the University of Tennessee's Allan Jones Aquatic Center. Scheduled events are the 200-yard butterfly, 100-yard backstroke, 100-yard breaststroke, 800-yard freestyle relay, and women's 1-meter diving. A live webcast and live results will be available. 

(Only Listed if Top 16)
* National Record

200-Yard Freestyle
Kendra Stern – 1st, 20 Points (1:44.82) *

100-Yard Butterfly
Allison Merz – 13th, 4 Points (56.82)

400-Yard Medley Relay 
Emily Swett, Abby Hahn, Allison Merz, Kendra Stern – 8th, 22 Points (3:49.19)

(Only Listed if Top 16)

200-Yard Freestyle
Alex Fraser – 3rd, 16 Points (1:38.47)
Ryan Lichtenfels – 10th, 7 Points (1:38.57)

400-Yard Medley Relay
Reid Fitzgerald, Ben McBratney, Tyler Bulakul, Alex Fraser – 3rd, 32 Points (3:18.76)