Rookie Swimmer Travels to Nationals

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Author: Juliet Suess

Caroline Chang (first-year) is the first swimmer to qualify for Division III Nationals under Head Coach Alex Kuhn. In the swim team’s third place finish at SCIACs, she earned 40 points with her two first-place finishes in the 100 and 200 meter breaststroke, as well as her additions to the women’s relays.

These two first-place finishes also qualified her for two Nationals B-cuts in the 100 and 200 meter breaststroke.

Swimmers who qualify with an A-cut automatically qualify for Nationals, and then league officials decide who of the B-cuts also go to Nationals. In the end, Chang was chosen to represent Occidental at the National Championships in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Last Wednesday, Chang participated in her first event: the 200 Individual Medley. Though she did not achieve a B-cut in this event, she was able to swim a third event due to her two other qualifications.

She was seeded with a 2:10.09 from SCIACs. Upon entry, she was on par with her SCIAC time, but going into the backstroke, she lost speed and fell behind her seed time. She finished solidly, with splits faster than her SCIAC time in the breaststroke and freestyle. Overall, she finished in the number 41 spot but said that she was content with her race.

“Even though I may not have dropped time or placed on the podium, I’m still happy with my swims, especially under the circumstances coming into the meet,” Chang said. She elaborated about the difficulties of not having a team at Nationals with her and tapering twice in the same season.

In response to Chang’s swims, Coach Kuhn said he was excited about her performance at Nationals and throughout the season. “Caroline put a lot of time this year in her pull-outs, which have really helped her make major drops in her time. If she can maintain her form, she’ll have a great swim [in her breaststroke events],” Kuhn said.

Chang, set and ready, swam her best event, the 100 breaststroke, on Friday morning. She was seeded with a 1:05.23 from SCIACs and was looking to beat that at Nationals. She kept up with her heat throughout the race and touched the wall with a 1:05.19, a best time and a 19th place finish at Nationals.

Though she was disappointed not to make top 16 and missed the opportunity to come back to swim at Finals, she remained optimistic. “I shook it off and hoped for the best in my other events. I just wanted to feel good in the water and swim my own race,” Chang said.

Her third event, the 200 breaststroke, was slightly disappointing, as Chang added roughly three seconds to her best time. “I was disappointed to have added three seconds of time, but I was just happy that I went to Nationals,” Chang said.

Overall she went from a 2:21.81 at SCIACs to a 2:24.37 at Nationals, finishing 31st in the country.

Despite the setback, Chang is looking forward to qualifying for Nationals again next year. “Hopefully next year I’ll have some teammates with me to swim at nationals, whether it be individual qualifiers or relays. I’m also hoping that I qualify for finals in at least one event,” Chang said.

Kuhn, too, is looking forward to the possibilities of next year. “It has been a long time since Oxy has had a female swimmer qualify for nationals. This is the next step in our goal of becoming a top ten national program, and Caroline has proven our program works,” he said.

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