SHENANDOAH, Texas – The Emory women have made a habit of winning at the NCAA championships of late, claiming three consecutive national titles since 2010 — a feat only rivaled by the Kenyon Ladies. Now in pursuit of their fourth team championship, Emory’s consistent core of swimmers – including seniors Anna Dobben, Renee Rosencranz, Ann Wolber and sophomore Nancy Larson – are still enjoying the ride.
Already two days into competition at the 2013 NCAA Swimming and Diving championships, the Eagles snagged the women’s 200-yard freestyle relay title to open Thursday evening’s finals. The feat cemented a tone already situated after a strong opening day performance.
Larson, the only underclassmen among a relay team consisting of Dobben, Rosencranz and Wolber, said she was happy her fellow teammates could go out with trophies in hand in their final huzzah as Eagle swimmers.
“I’m glad as a sophomore that I was able to share this relay with three other seniors who aren’t going to be with me next year,” Larson said. “Winning it was really an awesome thing to do to finish all of our time here.”
The relay title, in combination with several other solid performances by individual Eagle swimmers, gives the women another shot at a team championship. Still, as difficult as winning a single national title might be, winning consecutive championships is often more challenging. The target remains firmly planted on their backs.
Despite the continued successes, Emory head coach Jon Howell said there is never a lack of drive in his swimmers.
“Complacency is not a problem at all with our group, they’re anything but complacent,” Howell said. “I think they’re a very motivated group and a very driven group. I think the challenge is just the pressure of repeating the expectation that goes with that.”
The group is also abundant in leadership, particularly leadership by example. Already setting the bar in the NCAA championships, senior Anna Dobben placed second in the women’s 200-yard freestyle in continuation of a stellar career. With the finish, the decorated upperclassman now possesses double-digit All-American finishes since arriving at Emory.
Dobben, according to Howell, is only one of many leaders on the 2012-13 Emory team. Howell noted the importance of his nucleus of upperclassmen encouraging incoming freshmen.
“This is a real special team because we are really deep in leadership,” Howell said. “It’s a really great group and a really diverse group. I think they bring a lot to the table. I think for the freshman that come swim for the first time, it’s nice to have senior leadership to help them relax and know what they’re doing.”
Leadership and titles aside, chemistry remains a vital component to the Eagles’ success. This quality is one Rosencranz would immediately acknowledge stepping off the podium following a victory in the freestyle relay.
“I’m so thankful for the group we had in the relay, our teammates that are here to support us, our teammates at home, the alumni cheering for us and it’s all due to the great coaching staff we have,” Rosencranz said. “We have love for each other and that goes a long way.”