Author: Stephen Nemeth
The Occidental swimming and diving teams finished the four-day SCIAC Championships over the weekend with the women placing fifth and the men seventh at the Brenda Villa Aquatic Center in Commerce, Calif.
“Most of our team had time drops and reached their goals,” Steven van Deventer (junior) said. “We ended on a great note.”
van Deventer, the reigning national champion in the 200-yard breaststroke, picked up NCAA “B” cut times in his signature event along with the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard breaststroke.
On the women’s side, Caroline Chang (senior) defended her 100-yard breaststroke conference title for the fourth consecutive time, touching the wall six one-hundredths of a second sooner than Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) newcomer Kelly Ngo. Chang registered a “B” cut time in the event as well as in the 200-yard breaststroke.
Although she did not literally make a big splash in the pool, diver Jessica Robson (senior) set conference and personal bests on the 1-meter diving board, scoring a 489.1 to win the event for the third year in a row and breaking her own record of 443.85 in the process.
Robson followed up the 1-meter title with a victory on the 3-meter board — her fourth title in the event — shattering the oldest SCIAC women’s record (previously held by Occidental alumna Marra Stankus ‘94) with a score of 491.85.
The men’s relay squads got off to rough starts with both the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 200-yard medley relay being disqualified for false starts after top-three finishes. However, the 200-yard medley unit rebounded in a time trial held on the final day of the competition, setting the Occidental school record.
The men’s 400-yard medley relay team — made up of the same core of Will Westwater (sophomore), van Deventer, Alex Najarian (sophomore) and Kevin Kuwata (junior) — earned second place with a “B” cut time of 3:24.52 minutes.
“We made a ‘B’ cut by about half a second, and we have to see how the other teams have done before we know if we’ve been invited [to nationals],” Najarian said. “It was what we were kind of shooting for all season, and that was exciting to finally grab what we missed last year.”
Distance swimmer Rose Seabrook (first-year) made a big improvement on the last day in the 1650-yard freestyle, placing fifth in the event and missing out on a “B” cut by 10 seconds. She did, however, break the Tiger record in the 1000-yard freestyle on her way to setting a new mark in the mile.
“Everyone looks at swimming as kind of an individual sport, which it is,” Seabrook said. “But it is very much a team sport. You swim for your team, you’re trying to do well for your team and your coach, and everyone is really supportive. It is a group effort.”
Robson will compete in the NCAA Regional Diving Championships this weekend in Grinnell, Iowa. Meanwhile, van Deventer has already qualified for the NCAA Division-III National Championships in Indianapolis, Ind., on March 19-22. Chang was on the bubble at the time of publication, with her nationals bid being decided as of 7 a.m. this morning.
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