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Calvin Men Finish 25th at NCAA III Swimming & Diving Championships - Women Finish 34th

Saturday, March 26, 2011

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KNOXVILLE, TN - The Calvin men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams closed out competition at the NCAA III Championships in record-breaking fashion on Saturday. Sophomore Elizabeth Counsell earned an All-America performance with a seventh place finish in the women’s 200 breaststroke while setting a school record in the process. Meanwhile, freshman Andy Krafft reset his own school record twice on Saturday in taking third place in the men’s three-meter diving competition. The All-America finish by Counsell enabled the Calvin women to finish in 34th place in the final team standings with 17 points while Krafft boosted the Calvin men’s team into a tie for 25th place in the final standings with 33 points.

Counsell (Indianapolis, IN/Heritage Christian HS) broke her own school record in the morning prelims, clocking in with a time of 2:19.56 that broke her previous record of 2:19.74. Her time in the prelims was also good for seventh place and boosted her into the evening finals. Counsell then held her placement in the finals, finishing seventh with a time of 2:20.61, claiming the first All-America berth of her career. Her finish came on the heels of a honorable mention (16th place) All-America finish the night before and joins her 11th place (honorable mention All-America) performance in the 200 breaststroke at the 2010 national meet.

“I’m really pleased and proud of Elizabeth,” said Calvin head swim coach Dan Gelderloos. “She saved her best for last and really came up with a gem of a swim this morning and then held her own tonight. She’s had an outstanding sophomore season.”

Completing an outstanding freshman campaign on Saturday night was Krafft (Fort Wayne, IN/Home Schooled) who took third on the three-meter board with a school record score of 551.40 points. Krafft reset his own school record in the afternoon prelims with a score of 526.80 and then boosted his total by another 25 points in the evening finals. The third place finish was his second All-America performance of the meet as he placed second on the one-meter board two nights prior. Krafft’s national meet is the best combined set of finishes by a Calvin male diver since Bill VanEe placed second on both the one and three-meter boards at the 1985 NCAA III Championships.

Nick Halbach of the United States Merchant Marine Academy took first place on the three-meter board with a NCAA III Championships record score of 591.65 while Philip DeVine of Wisconsin-Oshkosh took second with a score of 588.75 that also eclipsed the previous NCAA III Championships record.

“I think this might have been the most competitive field of men’s divers that I have ever seen at a national meet,” said Gelderloos who is in his 15th year at the helm of the Calvin men’s and women’s programs. “I thought Andy stood tall tonight and showed that he belonged among the nation’s elite.”

Calvin diving coach Aaron Paskvan agreed. “Andy dove well this weekend and got better as the meet went along,” said Paskvan. “Having taken a few years off from diving and then returning to the sport this year makes it the all-the-more-remarkable of what he accomplished this year. I am proud of the way he competed tonight and I am proud of the way he worked this season. To set school records twice at a national meet is outstanding. Most individuals, particularly those competing at the national meet succumb to the pressure and don’t perform at their best but Andy was at his best tonight. The exciting thing is that he has the potential to get even better and I am already looking forward to next year.”

When asked about his performance at the national meet, Krafft was enthusiastic. “I had a lot of fun at the national meet,” said Krafft. “Heading in, I really didn’t know what to expect but the caliber of diving was really strong. I was pleased with my performances on both boards this weekend. I started a little slow on the one-meter the other day but I started getting more comfortable as the meet went along. It’s been a long year but at the same time I’ve really enjoyed diving again.”

“I was really proud of the way Elise competed last night,” said Paskvan. “She gained a lot of confidence with her performance on the one-meter board and that will help her in the coming years. We’re starting to build something with our diving group and Elise is one of the key pieces to our puzzle.”

“We brought a three-person contingent down here and everyone contributed and performed well,” said Gelderloos. “I am proud of all three of our athletes who competed. To have three athletes compete and have all three help us finish in the team standings is very satisfying.”

Emory (Ga.) claimed the women’s team national title, finishing with a final team score of 614 points, finishing well ahead of Denison which was second with 418 points. The story of the night however was the end of an incredible 31-year run by the Kenyon men’s swimming and diving team as the Lords were edged for the national team title by conference (NCAC) rival Denison by one point. Denison finished the meet with 500.5 points while Kenyon - which had won 31 consecutive NCAA III titles in men’s swimming and diving - finished second with 499.5 points. Denison clinched the national title with a third place finish in the final event of the night - the 400 freestyle relay. Denison took third place by three-tenths of a second. A fourth place finish by Denison would have given Kenyon the national (team) title by 1.5 points.

The Kalamazoo men’s team also took eighth place with 174 points. The Hornets crowned an individual national champion on Saturday night as senior Craig Fleming won the 100 freestyle with a time of 44.06.

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