GREENSBORO, N.C. – Count ‘em.
Seven. The perfect number.
Every year since 2010, Emory’s women’s swimming and diving team has made its way to the NCAA Division III national championship meet, and every year since 2010, the Eagles have come away victorious.
That’s not at all a bad record. Overall, this year’s is the ninth national championship for the Emory women.
If ever there was a team effort in this meet – or any other, for that matter – it was Emory’s. Annelise Kowalsky, Marcela Sanchez-Aizcorbe, Cindy Cheng and Fiona Muir got things started off Wednesday with a national championship in the 200 medley relay.
Muir, Sanchez-Aizcorbe, Megan Taylor and Marissa Bergh followed that up with a DIII-record time in the 200 freestyle relay the following day.
The Eagles weren’t done. Not yet.
Sanchez-Aizcorbe, Kowalsky and Cheng wound up with another national championship Friday in the 400 medley relay. Bergh, Cheng, Rebecca Upton and Julia Wawer claimed the school’s fourth relay title the same day in the 800 freestyle.
Incredibly, the young women lined up once more on Saturday, and once more come out with the victory. Muir, Sanchez-Aizcorbe, Taylor and Bergh took the 400 freestyle relay.
Five relays, five national championships. Julia Weaver, who finished first in the 200 freestyle, was Emory’s only individual titlist.
“It was huge, because we always took a lot of pride in our relays,” said head coach Jon Howell. “There’s a lot of tradition behind our relays. Being on those relays is something that they feel is an honor. They want to represent the tradition and everyone that’s on the team.”
Although Emory led after each and every day, it was not exactly a perfect meet for the Eagles. Then again, Howell couldn’t remember ever having a perfect matchup against anyone.
“Kenyon has a very good team,” Howell continued. “Denison and Williams are also going to be really good teams. Kenyon had an outstanding diver that we knew we had to make up those points. They did a great job, and they challenged us. They closed the gap on Day Two. It forced our women to step up and decide if they were going to take control, which they did on Day Three.”
Each of the last seven DIII national championships have had its own set of characteristics, and this one was no different.
“I think this was a meet where the stuff that good was really, really good,” Howell said. “We had some really big swims and some really big breakthroughs. It wasn’t a perfect meet, but collectively, it was a really fun week.”
This was Number 7 in a row, and preparation for Number 8 starts almost immediately. No. Forget that. It starts right now. Again, that’s just the way Jon Howell thinks.
“It’s a process that always starts again right after today,” he concluded. “Unfortunately, I think it’s just part of my personality. I’m always looking on. As I’ve done this longer and longer, I’ve tried to enjoy it a little bit more. But I still tend to look forward a little bit.”
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Count ‘em.