From March 21-March 24, Indianapolis, In. played host to the top Division III swimmers across the country for the NCAA National Championships. The University of Mary Washington had three swimmers (senior Megan DeSmit, sophomore Amber Kerico and freshman Alex Anderson) earn their way to the Division III pinnacle to compete in the famous IUPUI pool.
The venue has previously hosted multiple Olympic trials, and according to UMW head coach Abby Brethauer, the organization’s experience with such large events allowed them to put on a professional and special experience for the athletes. Kerico also discussed the type of environment that the legendary pool offered.
“The [IUPUI] pool is the best pool I have been to and the pools in our conference can’t even compete with it,” Kerico said. “There are elevated stands surrounding both sides of the pool which makes it the ultimate racing and competing environment.”
The Eagles’ swimmers competed in a variety of events with fields that varied from 30-50 swimmers depending on the type of race. DeSmit took part in the 100-breaststroke, the 200-breaststroke and the 200-freestyle. Like her teammate, Kerico also swam the 100-breaststroke and the 200-breaststroke, and she also raced the 100-butterfly as well. Meanwhile, Anderson swam the 50-freestyle, 400 IM and the 200-breaststroke.
The top Eagle performances came from Kerico in the 200-breaststroke (2:21.28) and Anderson in the 400 IM (3:55.72), both of whom earned All-American honors with their respective finishes. Kerico’s impressive time earned her a 12th place finish overall, while Anderson’s time was good for ninth place and was fast enough to break his own UMW school record in the process.
“Alex’s 400 IM was one of the most beautiful swims of the meet. He received a ton of compliments from other coaches, which speaks to how impressive it was,” Brethauer said. “For Amber, her goal coming into the meet was to get a second swim and to do that on the last day of a four day meet speaks to the fight that she has.”
Brethauer also talked of her philosophy and approach to the monumental meet.
“Generally when we get to NCAA’s, I am a very hands-off type of coach,” Brethauer said. “The kids who make the meet in individual events don’t really need much guidance from me as they are very talented and used to swimming in high pressure meets.”
Though DeSmit didn’t earn All-American honors in any events, she did have strong finishes, the best of which was in the 100-breaststroke where she took 24th place overall with her 1:06.69 time. Brethauer emphasized the importance that DeSmit making it to Nationals had on her fellow teammates. It was the senior’s second trip to the biggest Division III swimming stage, which allowed her to serve a valuable leadership role to her first year qualifying teammates.
For DeSmit, just making it to Nationals was an enormous accomplishment after a hip injury that limited her the past two years.
“I had hip surgery this summer and my surgeon told me I would probably never be able to swim breaststroke again, but I guess that wasn’t true,” DeSmit said. “I was just very grateful that I was able to compete again and at such a high level.”
Brethauer charactized the NCAA’s as a capstone to a successful swimming season. Both the men’s and women’s team took home the Capital Athletic Conference title back in late February.
“I am so proud of all that we accomplished as a team over the course of the season,” Brethauer said. “Having three swimmers at NCAA’s speaks to the direction that the program is heading.”