By: Alexi Woodward
From March 16 to 19, Kinsey Brooks, a sophomore nursing major and athlete on the Mary Washington women’s swim team, competed in the NCAA Division III National Championships. Brooks competed in three events, the 200-yard individual medley, the 100-yard breaststroke and the 200-yard breaststroke. Brooks returned home holding the title of All-American in all three of her events.
“I was happy overall,” said Brooks, “especially coming back with three All-American titles. That was kind of the goal going into the meet: making it on the podium.”
The All-American title is awarded to the top eight competitors in the Division III National Championships.
“I was thrilled with Kinsey’s performance at NCAA Championships as well as the way she handled the events,” said women’s swim Coach Justin Anderson. “It can be such a nerve-racking experience and she handled it excellently. Especially as her first NCAA Championship, I was extremely proud of her performance. Kinsey did a great job approaching it, and in terms of how things went this year, I don’t think it could’ve gone any better.”
Brooks said her coaches were supportive throughout the entire process.
“Coach Anderson and Assistant Coach Ryan gave 100% to me, especially in those upcoming weeks getting me to that competition,” she said.
The coaches were willing and able to adjust to suit her class schedule, Brooks said. Even with short notice, they made themselves available for her training outside of scheduled practices.
“Being in nursing school, it’s not always easy to make all the practices, so they were available at any time,” Brooks said. “I would say ‘okay, for the next day, this is what works for me,’ and they were ‘100% we’ll be there.’ UMW athletics is great. I love everyone I’ve ever come across. They’ve been super nice.”
Brooks’s coaches were able to attend the championships in Indianapolis, Ind., with her. She was also able to bring one of her longtime teammates, senior swimmer and biomedical sciences major Courtney Wolfgang.
Wolfgang said that she and Kinsey have been swimming together for eight years.
“Seeing her compete at the biggest and most competitive meet in college swimming was amazing!” said Wolfgang. “She works so hard in and out of the pool and her success is very well deserved.”
Brooks said that she and Wolfgang are a good pair when it comes to handling high stress situations.
“I’m really comfortable with her, and I don’t want to put myself in a situation where I don’t know someone super well and they don’t know me in a high stress situation,” said Brooks.
Brooks was also able to reconnect with some previous coaches that also had attended the meet, including previous UMW swim Coach Abby Brethauer.
“I just want to thank my parents especially, for nonstop support and helping me get to where I am. This isn’t an easy sport, and their support means the whole world to me. And my teammates as a whole—they were also just really supportive,” said Brooks.
One of Brooks’s teammates, sophomore biomedical sciences major Conrad Tan, said, “I have no doubt that she’ll be on top of the podium one day!”
Brooks emphasized the importance of pushing through no matter what.
“Training wise, I always give 100%,” said Brooks. “When you’re swimming, it’s really easy to give up, especially when you’re tired, but you have to break through and find another gear and keep pushing hard until the race is over.”
Victoria R. Percherke contributed to the reporting for this article.