Photo Courtesy: UA Athletics (Walt Beazley)
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (Univ. of Ark.) - A total of seven swimmers will travel to Indianapolis, Ind., to represent the University of Arkansas swimming and diving team in eight different events at the NCAA Championship from March 21-23, it was announced Wednesday. The seven swimmers gives the Razorbacks the largest class in the 40 year history of the program in the first season under the direction of head coach Sean Schimmel.
"I'm just really excited for the opportunity to go to the NCAA Championship with these women and
compete in one of the fastest meets in the country and the world," Schimmel said. "Having the opportunity to go there and make an impact is something we are really excited about."
Arkansas will participate in eight swimming events at the Championship with individual qualifiers in the 100 and 200 breaststroke and the 1,650 freestyle. For the first time in school history, Arkansas will also participate in all five relays after securing an NCAA 'B' cut or better in the 200 medley, 400 medley, 200 freestyle, 400 freestyle and 800 freestyle relays.
"All of the women participating at the NCAA Championship will get the chance to participate in the relays and that's something Arkansas hasn't done in a while and it's huge," Schimmel said.
To qualify for NCAA's, the 200 medley relay team of Shana Lim, Nikki Daniels, Susanna White and Nina Drolc earned the program's first NCAA 'A' cut for a relay after clocking a blistering 1:37.79 at the SEC Championship. The Razorback relay team enters the Championship with the 12th-best time in the country and also went undefeated on the year in dual-meet action.
The 200-medley relay team is also the first relay team since the 2003 team of Peggy Stoner, Leslie Johns, Zsuzsa Csobanki and Tara Reynolds to earn an NCAA berth.
Individually, Daniels secured herself a spot at the NCAA Championship with a school-record breaking NCAA 'A' Cut in the 100 breaststroke at the SEC Championship. Daniels' 59.26 in the 100 breast marks Arkansas' first 'A' cut swim since Yi-Ting Siow in 2010. Daniels recorded three event wins in the 100 breast this season and the Wichita, Kan., native will enter the championship with the ninth-best time in the nation.
Daniels will also compete in the 200 breaststroke after clocking a time of 2:10.53 at the SEC Championship, ranking 26th nationally.
Milers Nicole Menzel and Lauren Jordan also swam their way into the Championship with mile times of 16:09.56 and 16:13.86 respectively, which rank 18th and 28th nationally. Menzel also competed for the Razorbacks at the NCAA Championship last season, but in the 500 freestyle.
"Having Lauren and Nicole qualify in the mile is great and obviously that's one of our strengths," Schimmel said. "We are looking to capitalize on what we did at SEC's and see if we can get better to see how they can impact the meet."
Freshman Anna Mayfield will also travel to the NCAA Championship to participate in the relays after helping the 800 freestyle relay in particular to the second-fastest time in school history at the SEC Championship (7:10.83).
With the top-notch class, the Razorbacks look to return to the top-25 for the first time since 1990. In addition, the most participants the Razorbacks sent to the NCAA Championship prior to this season was six in 1991, when Arkansas finished 27th overall.
Arkansas looks to grow its record-breaking NCAA participant class as a total of four divers competing at the NCAA Zone Diving Championships. Kehsa Naylor, Hanna Bortnick, Shelby Bartlett and Meghan Clark will hit the boards from March 11-13th in Houston, Texas.