Men’s swimming captures second consecutive NCAA Championship

JOANNE LEE — While many students may have spent this spring break soaking up the sun in Florida or spending down time with their family, 34 of the top swimmers at Denison were competing at the annual championships at the Greensboro Aquatic Center. Continuing their winning streak, the Denison Swim and Dive team maintained their dominance in Greensboro, North Carolina at the Division III Championships over spring break from March 20 – March 23.

Both the men’s and women’s team performed at an extremely high level, with the men placing first for the second consecutive year and fifth time in the last nine years.

The women finished third as a team, marking their twelfth consecutive podium (top-four) finish.

There was a lot of support from everyone at Denison from the staff, parents, alumni and fellow teammates. Natalie Zaravella ‘20 talked about the overwhelming amount of support she felt from everyone. Going into the meet, Zaravella had a personal goal of being able to stand on the podium during all three of her meets, and she was able to do that in addition to totaling four All-American performances this championship. She attributes a lot of her success to the support around her.

“Swimming can often be an underlooked sport, especially in high school, but Denison really tries to respect everyone’s achievements. During the days leading to the meet, we try to make sure we get a lot of carbs for energy and Chef Joe in Huffman made sure there was lots of pasta.”

Sam Jo ‘20 did not compete at the meet but ended his spring break early to support his team. “It was an exciting experience. I shared an AirBnb with 13 other guys which was an intense bonding experience. The air was energetic and everyone performed really well. Liam Picozzi ‘22 and Richie Kurlich ‘22 swam particularly well, especially as freshmen.”

Throughout the year, there was a strong focus on unity which was not only evident in the stands and meets but throughout the year in practices. Zaravella ‘20 spoke of the team culture of never settling and working to respect everyone.

“I ask myself what I can do to help my teammates achieve their goals and I know they do the same for me. Everyone has different things they need so we all try to respect that as well. We really wanted to hit the ground running this year, and at such a competitive event, it’s important for everyone to do well, at both prelims and finals and everyone fed off the energy and did just that.”

All the hard work and support paid off, evident in their wins, but that doesn’t mean they get a break, because the team never wants to settle and be content in their achievements, constantly striving to be better. Even though the season is over, swimmers continue to take time out to train and lift.

Jo ‘20 remarked on the remarkable teamwork. On his previous team, he says he “used to train alone with the coach,” but says that with Denison, “the team comes together to lift during Tuesdays and Thursdays and swim at voluntary practices, pushing each other to be the best we can.”“The season may be over, but we never want to lose the momentum we’ve created. This is the culture we’ve created, and I couldn’t be prouder to be part of it,” Zaravella concluded.

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