National Swimming & Diving Championships Begin Wednesday with 16 Moccasins Set to Compete

National Swimming & Diving Championships Begin Wednesday with 16 Moccasins Set to Compete

INDIANAPOLIS – The NCAA Division II National Swimming and Diving Championships begin on Wednesday at the IUPUI Natatorium where Florida Southern will be represented by 16 of its best swimmers under first-year head coach Andy Robins. Ten men and six women are on the roster for the trip to Indianapolis, which is hosting the championships for the third time in the last five years, as the Moccasins look to add to their list of impressive accomplishments over the last 10 years. During that time the Mocs have brought home 15 gold medals between the men and women, with at least one individual or relay national champion in seven of the last nine years.

Swimmers earn automatic spots by achieving NCAA "A" times throughout the season, but can also be selected based on the strength of their "B" times. Once a swimmer has been chosen to compete in a specific event or events at the National Finals, they may compete in any additional events in which they achieved the NCAA "B" standard. However, each swimmer is limited to no more than four individual events or seven total events including relays.

The 4-day championship meet features 19 swimming and two diving events, and the NCAA will provide full coverage all week with live results and video. (Links will be provided on the Florida Southern swimming schedule pages once they are available.) Competition each day begins at 10:00 a.m. with preliminaries or heats in various events. The top eight swimmers will advance to the championship/A finals that night, with the next eight advancing to the consolation/B finals. (There are no prelims in the 1,000-freestyle, the 1,650-freestyle, or 800-freestyle relay. Those events will instead be contested in heats, with the fastest heat going in the evening finals session.) Finals sessions begin each night at 6 p.m. A full meet schedule may be found here.

All-Time Florida Southern Men's Finishes and Medal Winners at the National Finals
All-Time Florida Southern Women's Finishes and Medal Winners at the National Finals

Last year, the Moccasin men finished fourth behind Queens (NC), California Baptist, and Indianapolis. The national championship was the fourth straight for Queens, which is sending 13 swimmers to this year's finals, the most of any team in the country. Among them is two-time NCAA Male Swimmer-of-the-Meet Marius Kusch, who won four individual gold medals and three as part of relay teams. The Moccasins, however, are the only team in the country to have placed in the top five of the national finals each of the last seven years, including runner-up finishes in 2013 and 2014. Only Queens (NC) and Drury (MO) have scored more points than Florida Southern during that span.

Overall, the Florida Southern men have won four individual national championship and six relay titles. The Mocs also have 14 silver medals and 21 bronze. Last year's team claimed four individual medals and three relay medals, highlighted by Matthew Holmes' national championship in the 400-IM. Holmes and Kusch are two of the three individuals back to defend their titles this year, with the other being Missouri S&T distance swimmer Tim Samuelsen.

All six of Florida Southern's NCAA selections competed in last year's national finals, and Robins has elected to bring four additional swimmers who are only eligible to compete in relays. The six selections are seniors Nico Campbell, Matthew Holmes, and Luka Planinc, and sophomores Miguel Bernotti, Brandon Dyck, and Matias Lopez, and all of them brought home at least one individual All-American award. Competing as relay swimmers are senior Charles Gotsch, junior Talor Hamilton, sophomore Carlos Bernotti and freshman Dorian Bachlaj. Hamilton also took part in last year's finals and earned an All-American award as a relay swimmer.

The Moccasins are well-armed in the individual medley events where they not only return Holmes, who won a gold medal in the 400 and a bronze in the 200, but Lopez as well after a pair of honorable mention All-American awards in those events last year. Holmes is the top seed in the 400 and No. 2 in the 200 (based on national times), and Lopez is No. 8 in the 400 and No. 17 in the 200.

Holmes will also be representing Florida Southern in the breaststroke and is No. 10 on the national times list in the 200. He won gold medals in both distances at the conference championships this year, but it will be the first time he's competed at the national finals in either breaststroke race.

Dyck and Lopez are competing in the backstroke events, with Dyck the Mocs' top swimmer in the 100, and Lopez their top swimmer in the 200. Dyck has posted national top-20 times in both events, and the SSC individual champion has won his last six races in the 100. He's been beaten by only one Division II swimmer this year, and that coming by just 0.06 seconds. Lopez will go to Indianapolis ninth on the Division II times list in the 200-back, an event he won five times this year after finishing seventh at last year's national finals.

Miguel Bernotti will lead the Moccasins in the butterfly and holds the No. 9 position in the 200 on the national list. He was honorable mention All-American in that event last year and set the school record in the 200 this year. Bernotti will get additional help in the 100 from Dyck.

Dyck could also assist the Moccasins in the 50-free, an event he swam at last year's finals, but Campbell has qualified in both the 50 and 100-freestyle. Campbell's best event though has been the 200-free where he has already been a two-time honorable mention All-American and is No. 9 on the Division II times list this year after a silver medal at the conference championships.

Planinc completes the group of freestyle swimmers the Moccasins have at the national finals after he was selected in the 200, 500, 1000, and 1650. He has top-20 times in all four events, including No. 9 in the 500, and medaled in all four at the SSC Championships. He was honorable mention All-American at that distance and the 1,000 last year.

Six of Florida Southern's 10 gold medals at nationals have come in relay races, and they rank No. 11 or higher in all three of freestyle relays this year. The 800-freestyle relay team sits at No. 2 on the national times list, with Campbell, Planinc, Gotsch and Holmes posting that time while winning the gold medal at the conference championships. Campbell, Planinc, and Holmes were part of last year's national runner-up team in that event too.

The 200-freestyle relay team picked up a bronze medal at last year's national finals, with Campbell and Hamilton returning from that squad. Carlos Bernotti was part of the Mocs' top teams in both the 200 and 400-freestyle relay this year, and the addition of Bachlaj to the roster ensures the Mocs will have their breaststroke swimmer from both of their medley relay teams, one of which Hamilton is also a member.

The Florida Southern women finished 18th out of 45 scoring teams at last year's national championships and have four top-10 finishes all-time. Their highest came in 2013 when they placed sixth. Queens (NC) is the defending national champion and has won the last four titles, and Drury (MO) has been the runner-up during three of those seasons. This year, Queens received the maximum number of individual selections with 18, and 10 of those swimmer were All-American or honorable mention All-Americans last year.

The Moccasins have five individual national championships, all of them won by either Mary O'Sullivan or Alli Crenshaw. O'Sullivan won both of hers in 2011, taking the 200-free and 200-back. Crenshaw won the 1,000-free and 1,650-free in 2013, and was a repeat winner in the 1,000-free in 2014.

The women will have seniors Haley DeGrace and Katie Moore, and junior Malin Wallen eligible to compete in at least two individual events apiece, with senior Krystal Karas, and juniors Mallary Meyer and Kyra Fraser joining them to compete in relays. DeGrace and Karas are making the trip to the national finals for the fourth time in their careers, Moore is going for the second time after transferring to Florida Southern last year, and Meyer is also going for the second time. Wallen and Fraser will be making their first appearance at the finals.

DeGrace will be swimming the two breaststroke events for the fourth year in a row and is coming off a Sunshine State Conference Championship in the 200. She currently owns the No. 11 national time in that event, which she has won five times this season. The school record holder in both the 100 and 200, DeGrace has been an All-American as a relay swimmer twice in the last three years and helped the 400-medley team set a school record at last year's national finals.

Moore will be leading the Moccasins in the freestyle events by qualifying in the 200, 500, 1000, and 1650. Alli Crenshaw in 2013 is the only other FSC women's swimmer to compete at the finals in all four of those events, and Moore heads to Indianapolis with national top-10 times in three of them (No. 5 in the 200, No. 4 in the 500, and No. 9 in the 1000). She leads the team with 12 individual wins this season. Moore was an honorable mention All-American in the 1000 last year and added two more All-American awards as a relay swimmer.

Though Wallen has taken part in only two meets since December, the nine-time junior college All-American has still qualified for nationals in the 400-IM and 100-free. She will be only the second Moccasin women's swimmer to compete in the 400-IM at the national finals, joining Jacinda Whittenburg who did so in 2017 and '18. She was the junior college national champion in the 400-IM last year.

Leading the relay swimmers is Karas, who has already earned eight All-American awards in her career, with two apiece in every relay event except for the 200-medley. This year she anchored the Moccasins' top teams in the 200-freestyle and 200-medley relays, and was on the leadoff leg for their best 400-free and 800-free relay teams.

Meyer returns to the national finals as a member of the Mocs' top 200-free and 400-free relay teams, and at various points has been on the freestyle, backstroke, and butterfly legs of the medley relay teams. She anchored their bronze medal team at the SSC Championships in the 400-freestyle relay.

Fraser was the Moccasins' lead swimmer this year in the 200-backstroke and has been on the backstroke leg of both medley relay teams. She also helped the 800-freestyle squad earn a bronze medal at the SSC Championships.