Womens' Swim team makes splash at NCAC conference meet


It was an intense weekend in the pool for the DePauw University's women's swimming team.
The women were at Denison University from Thursday until Saturday, breaking school records and earning third place at the NCAC Championships with 1,087 points.
"There were a lot of great times and I am so proud of all my teammates," said first-year Kirsten Olson. "Coach Ben (Hewitt) and Alyssa (Swanson) have both been great assets to the program and we would not have been able to achieve the things we did this season without them,"
Hewitt took over head coaching duties in late September of 2013, coming over from a three-year assistant coaching stint at Nova Southeastern University. Hewitt was hired after former Tiger head coach Matt Ense left the University to pursue a Division I University of Cincinnati assistant coaching position. Olson was one of a dozen freshmen on the roster that had to deal with the coaching transition only a handful of months into their collegiate swimming careers.
Thursday (February 13th) began with a splash, as first-year Angela Newlon became the first DePauw female to win a North Coast Athletic Conference swimming title. She broke her own school record and established a pool record in the 500-yard freestyle. By the end of day DePauw's 200-free relay of Caroline Bridges, Emily Weber, Erin Horne and Kirsten Olson finished third in 1:36.30, which earned all NCAC honors. While the 400-medley relay of Morgan Graves, Allison Kirby, Newlon and Bridges earned all NCAC accolades. The Tigers finished their day in third place, with 739 points total. Kenyon led the Championships after the first day with 1,234 points.
Friday proved just as thrilling. Annie Graves broke a school record in the 100-backstroke with a time of 57.83. Newlon, Weber, Bridges and Olson stole third in the 800-free relay, earning NCAC honors as well as setting a school record.
On the third and final day of the NCAC Championships, DePauw's 15th ranked women were still breaking records. Emily Weber broke her own school record with a time of 17:17.48 in the 1,650-yard freestyle. Olson also set a school record in the prelims of the 200-backstrokes, and broke it in the finals with a time of 2:05.45.
"This is the third year the DePauw swimming team has been a part of NCAC," said senior Allison Kirby. "For swimming it is the hardest conference, two of the top teams in the nation are in this conference, and each year we have had a greater presence in the pool, closing the gap between the teams."
Denison held first place throughout the meeting finishing first with 1,839 points with Kenyon at a close second finishing 1,805.
Kirsten Olson said, "Kenyon and Denison have a strong rivalry, but we really made a name for ourselves at this meet. We were definitely noticed." 
Though the team didn't win the championships, they are pleased with where they ended up for the 2014 season. Weber, a junior from Cincinnati Ohio, has seen three NCAC Women's Swimming and Diving Championships with the Tigers. Her freshman year, Tigers finished fourth in the competition, behind Denison University, Kenyon College, and the College of Wooster. Weber came in 11th place in the 1,650-freestyle that year. In her sophomore season, Weber and the Tigers finished in third place at the competition. Weber set a school record time in the 1,650-freestyle, finishing at 17:21.02. This year, she beat herself out, beating last year's record by almost four seconds.
"Every year the NCAC Championship has been even better. DePauw has definitely improved every year. I am so proud to have been able to watch all the girls swim so fast at conference. The season is hopefully not over yet and I am excited to continue training for nationals these next several weeks," said Weber.
Last year's NCAA Division III Championships took place from March 20th to March 23rd. The Tigers finished tied for 27th, and Weber came in 18th place in the 1,650-freestyle. Weber hopes to keep her and her Tiger's performances on an upward spiral as the team prepares for this year's NCAA Championship.