Denison Wins 2001 NCAA Division III Women's Swimming and Diving National Championship
Posted: March 12, 2001
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- As the Denison University women's swimming team embarked on its journey to Buffalo, N.Y., for the 2001 NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships during the "Blizzard of 2001," the student-athletes had dreams of swimming up their own storm. As they quickly realized - dreams can come true.
When the meet concluded on Saturday, March 10, the Big Red left the Erie Community College's Flickinger Aquatic Center with 10 of the 20 event titles, four national records, 30 individual All-American honors, Swimmer of the Year and Coach of the Year honors, and for the first time ever - the national team championship trophy.
The Big Red recorded 588 points to claim the crown, with Kenyon (572), Williams (356), Emory (258) and Johns Hopkins (199) rounding out the top five.
On Thursday, March 8, the Big Red women hit first and hit hard by successfully defending their 200-yard freestyle relay crown with a time of 1:33.71. Junior Mollie Parrish started the relay off with a 23.98 lead off split, junior Kate Flikkema followed in 23.32, sophomore Leah Favret split 23.47, and sophomore Erin Stanley finished in 22.94. With her relay split, Stanley became one of only five women in NCAA Division III history to eclipse the 23-second mark in a relay split.
Denison continued its first-place finishes with a consolation heat win and then a finals heat win in the 500-yard freestyle event. Junior Kelly Cantwell was up first for the Big Red. Seeded 12th going into the evening session, Cantwell swam a confident and composed race to drop five seconds from her morning swim and win the consolation heat with a personal-best time of 5:00.56. In the next heat, sophomore Tamara Carty dominated for the entire race, winning her first national title with a new school-record time of 4:57.12p.
In the 200-yard individual medley, Denison seniors Amy DeVito and Katie Sprague had strong showings by placing third and fourth, respectively. DeVito swam to a season-best time of 2:07.57p, while Sprague eclipsed her personal-best time with a 2:08.72p.
In the 50-yard freestyle, Denison's sprinters showed why they are the best in the country, placing second, third, ninth and 10th. Stanley led the way in the finals heat with a second-place time of 23.80, and Parrish finished right behind in third with a personal-best 23.83 clocking. Flikkema and Favret finished one-two in the consolation heat with personal-bests of 24.08 and 24.27p, respectively.
Denison finished off the dream-like night with what many coaches called the best relay they have ever seen at the Division III level. The team of Favret, sophomore Alyssa Heidinger, Parrish and Flikkema came together to not only win the 400-yard medley relay, but also break the national record by more than four seconds with a 3:46.11 performance. Favret started off the relay with the fourth-fastest 100-yard backstroke in NCAA history by touching in 57.35. Heidinger then extended the lead with the second-fastest breaststroke split in NCAA history with a 1:03.09 performance. In one of the greatest moments in the history of small college swimming, Parrish split a 54.98 in the butterfly leg of the relay, breaking the top NCAA split by more than a second. Flikkema finished the relay with a 50.59 freestyle split, which was the fifth-fastest split recorded in NCAA history.
Denison, which led from the first race, finished the first night with a 33-point margin over second-place Kenyon in the overall team standings.
The following evening, Favret, Heidinger and Parrish added Erin Stanley to the mix and posted another national record - this time in the 200-yard medley relay. Favret led off in 26.76 (the third-fastest split in NCAA history), Heidinger split 29.08 (the fifth fastest relay split in history), Parrish touched in 24.69 (the fastest split in small college swimming), and Stanley finished in 22.84 (the fourth fastest split in NCAA history). Their final time of 1:43.37 eclipsed the previous national record by more than a second.
The next race was one of the most exciting of the meet as senior Amy DeVito tried to play catch-up in the last leg of the 400-yard individual medley. Her heart alone, however, was not enough as she ran out of steam and touched just behind the leader in third place. Her time of 4:29.48 was still a personal best and new team record. Senior Stephanie Busch also finished in the final heat, touching in 4:35.83 for seventh place. Carty turned in her first All-American finish in the 400 IM, placing 13th with a personal-best time of 4:37.52.
The NCAA's Division III Women's Swimmer of the Year, Mollie Parrish, dominated the next event by winning the 100-yard butterfly in what was the only individual national record of the meet. Her time of 55.49 was more than half a second faster than the previous national mark and well ahead of the second-place finisher. Stanley continued the Big Red's second amazing night by dropping a second off of her preliminary time to win the 200-yard freestyle in 1:52.08, a new team record. She finished nearly a second and a half ahead of the closest competitor. Flikkema also had a strong showing, placing sixth with a new personal record of 1:54.03p. Cantwell added another consolation win to her meet accomplishments by swimming a personal-best effort of 1:54.37.
The Big Red's winning streak remained intact when Heidinger touched first in the 100-yard breaststroke with the second-fastest time in NCAA Division III history. Her mark of 1:04.09 was also a new team record. Sprague finished with a personal-best time of 1:05.71p, placing her fifth in the event. Adding more excitement to the event, sophomore Deb Janssen achieved her first-ever top-16 finish with a 14th-place time of 1:07.82p. In the 100-yard backstroke, Favret broke the 57-second mark for the first time in Denison history, placing second in the event with a 56.93. Her time was also the third-fastest ever recorded in small college swimming.
Denison finished off the night with its fourth relay victory and its third national relay record by winning the 800-yard freestyle relay in 7:33.59. Amy DeVito led off with a 1:54.71, Flikkema split a 1:53.23, Cantwell touched in 1:52.34, and Stanley finished in 1:53.31. Flikkema, Cantwell and Stanley's splits were all among the top-15 ever recorded in NCAA Division III history. On Friday night, the Big Red extended their team lead to 67 points.
Carty started the final evening of swimming with a bang by winning the 1,650-yard freestyle event in the second-fastest time ever achieved in Division III swimming. Her performance of 16:47.15 was 15 seconds ahead of the second-place competitor. She set a new team mark in the event, as well as in the 1,000-yard freestyle event with her split of 10:06.87. Cantwell added another top-16 finish to her meet achievements by placing 13th with a personal-best time of 17:26.74.
In the 200-yard backstroke, first-year student Clare Williams stepped up to score critical points for the Big Red in the consolation heat. Williams, who was in fourth place at the final turn, surged ahead in the last five yards to beat her competition to the wall and win the consolation heat. Her time of 2:07.14 was a personal best. Favret also finished strong in the event by placing 12th with a time of 2:08.71.
In the 100-yard freestyle, Denison's sprinters once again took control by placing three women in the final heat. With the competition even after the first 50 yards, Stanley took over, finishing half a second ahead of the competition with a team-record time of 51.20. Her performance was the fourth-fastest time ever recorded in NCAA history. Flikkema and Parrish finished fifth and eighth with personal-best times of 51.95 and 52.43, respectively.
Heidinger and Sprague added two more top-eight finishes to their totals by placing second and fourth in the 200-yard breaststroke. Both achieved personal-best times and NCAA Division III all-time top-20 times in the event with Sprague swimming a 2:21.93p and Heidinger finishing in 2:21.98. In the final individual event of the championships, DeVito and Busch placed seventh and eight, respectively, in the 200-yard butterfly. DeVito's time of 2:08.02p was a personal best and Busch's 2:09.04p was a season-best time.
Going into the 400-yard freestyle relay, Denison led the team competition by 22 points, which meant all they had to do was finish legally to win their first-ever national team title. Parrish led the relay off in a 52.52, Flikkema split 51.41, DeVito touched in 53.08, and as Stanley finished the relay in 51.17, head coach Gregg Parini raised his arms in victory as his team had just scored a safe second-place finish and the team title.
The team trophy presentation was an incredible moment as parents and alumni looked on to see the Big Red swimmers and coaches raise just one finger each, and for the first time in Denison's history for it to be true at the national level. The Big Red women, who have never won a conference title, are the first Denison team in any sport, male or female, to win an NCAA Division III national championship.
Following the team trophy presentation, Parrish was awarded the NCAA's Division III Women's Swimmer of the Year Award and Parini was named the NCAA's Division III Women's Coach of the Year. The NCAA Division III swimming coaches voted on both honors.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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