Heading into the final night of competition at the 2017 NJCAA Swimming & Diving National Championships, the Indian River squads placed the bodies needed into final heats to feel comfortable with securing the men's 43rd consecutive and women's 39th overall national team titles. The focus could now shift to individual performance, fast swims and perfect dives. The final battle for individual awards would be decided in the swimmer's fourth individual event or diver's second board, scoring the sacred points in the race for high point honors and the coveted NJCAA Swimmer and Diver of the Year honors.
Firing up the crowd, the meet began with a two lap dash, the 50 Butterfly. Osianna McReed secured her third win of the meet with her time of 24.62, establishing a new NJCAA National Record. The win and record put her in the hunt for Swimmer of the Year honors heading into her final event later in the evening, the 100 Free. The showdown with teammate, Courtney Perrett, would be the deciding factor in the outcome of that award. On the men's side, Nick Loomis, fresh off setting the NJCAA National Record in the event this morning with his time of 21.27, won his third event of the championships. His points total, combined with his bonus points for national records, put him in control of high point honors pending the outcome of the 200 Backstroke final later in the evening session.
The 1650 Free, known to most as the mile, was next up. This event is the longest event competed at the championship and is a timed final event requiring great discipline and stamina. Top seeds, Ianthe Van Der Westhuizen, freshman from South Africa, and Alex Berggren, sophomore from Sweden, were next to showcase their talents. Van Der Westhuizen seized control of the race from the onset and never relinquished the lead. She took the top podium spot while Madyson Lyons, sophomore transferring to Florida Atlantic upon graduation, took second place, dropping 29 seconds from her seed time. Berggren held true to his seed and took top honors in the race. He stayed consistent throughout the 66 lap marathon, cracking the 16 minute mark with his finishing time of 15:59.73, a personal best.
Following the 1650 free, the meet took a big turn in excitement, shifting to the 100 Free, another sprint event. The crowd at Burt Flickenger Aquatic Center got loud as the waters began to churn. The women's final pitted Courtney Perrett and Osianna McReed in a head-to-head battle that would ultimately decided who would win the Swimmer of the Year Honors. McReed took the early lead off the start with her explosive power and early speed. After turn one, she extended her lead and never looked back. Her time of 50.20 was nearly two seconds faster than the field and closed the books on the NJCAA Swimmer of the Year honors. The men's final was a dead heat until the third lap where John Fauteux took control. His back half speed earned him the gold while a charging Gavin Erdmann, Cameron Newton and Guillaume Bolivard took second, third and fourth respectively.
Next up, the 200 backstroke, featured Luka Tomic, another athlete in the hunt for Swimmer of the Year Honors. Tomic would have to outlast Jason Van Der Touw and Harrison Howerton as well as set a new National Record to stay in the hunt for the honor. However, before the men got underway, the women's heat hit the water with Kamryn Gallowich, Megan Abad and Courtney Stewart. Abad and Gallowich were tied after the morning prelims with Stewart seeded third but in striking distance. Abad, just like the 100 back earlier in the week, separated herself from the field using her underwater ability off the start and walls. With every turn, she distanced herself from the field winning the event with a 2:03.67. Stewart took second and Gallowich rounded out the IRSC contingency at third. The men's final took to the water and saw Tomic out to a slight lead at the first 50. At the 100 mark the race was still tight but Tomic took control in the back half of the race giving a run at the National Record. His time of 1:45.97 came up a bit short of the record but secured his fourth gold medal of the competition. Van Der Touw and Howerton completed the sweep of the top three spots with there second and third place finishes.
Following the backstroke, the final individual swimming event of the championship was on tap. Natalie Grothe was looking to secure her fourth individual title of the meet and finish strong. Grothe would be pushed by breaststroke specialist and teammate, Lauren Meryck. The two were in a tightly contested battle through 150 yards before Grothe pulled away to take the win. Meryck finished second and Taylor Miller secured the fourth place finish for the team. On the men's side, this was another race expecting a hotly contested battle for the men's individual title between athletes from Iowa Lakes and Indian River. Hylton Collinson had previously swept the individual medley events taking two wins away from 'THE RIVER'. He had his hands full with Andrew Wojcik, Sebastian, Florida resident, and sophomore, Joel Falk Hannson. As expected, the men's race began with early speed and a dead heat at wall number two, the 50 yard mark. At the 100 and 150 marks, the race was still too close to call. Falk Hansson made a big move on lap seven to take the lead, but Collinson was able to close on the final lap, winning the event.
The agenda took a switch prior to the meet's final event, the 400 Free Relay, when the crowd turned their focus to the finals of the women's 3-M Diving. Adrianna Warning, sophomore from Henderson, Nevada, was primed to complete her second year undefeated at the National Championships and secure another Diver of the Year honor. Her final six dives put her in a class of her own, defeating the field by more than 100 points. Domineeka Luis and Chastity Haxton secured second and third place spots, completing another sweep of the top spots on the boards for the IRSC women's divers.
In traditional championship meet format, the NJCAA Championships came to a close with the 400 Free Relays being contested. The IRSC women's team of Courtney Stewart, Osianna McReed, Courtney Perrett, and Malin Wallen won the race in convincing fashion in the time of 3:26.53, beating the field by more than thirteen seconds. Closing out the meet for the IRSC men's team, John Fauteux, Gavin Erdmann, Cameron Newton, and Luka Tomic dipped under the 3-minute mark with their final time of 2:58.47, winning the men's relay.
Women's Team Scores: (Top 3)
Indian River - 1210
South Georgia - 563
Iowa Lakes - 498.5
Men's Team Scores: (Top 3)
Indian River - 1293
Southwestern Oregon - 557
Iowa Central - 486
Women's Swimmer of the Year:
Men's Swimmer of the Year:
Women's Diver of the Year:
Men's Diver of the Year:
Men's Swim Coach of the Year:
Women's Swim Coach of the Year:
Diving Coach of the Year: