INDIANAPOLIS – Florida Southern has had three members of its women's swimming team selected to compete in the NCAA Division II National Championships, March 13-16 in Indianapolis at the IU Natatorium, and head coach Andy Robins is also bringing three additional swimmers to compete in relay events only. Returning to the national finals are seniors Haley DeGrace and Katie Moore, and joining them is junior Malin Wallen who has qualified in her first year with the Moccasins as a junior college transfer.
Competing strictly as relay swimmers are senior Krystal Karas, and juniors Mallary Meyer and Kyra Fraser. Karas joins DeGrace as a four-time competitor at the national finals, Meyer is making her second trip after going as a relay swimmer her freshman year, and Fraser is going for the first time. Teams may bring up to four additional individuals as relay only swimmers.
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 event 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 National Finals feature 14 individual events and five relay races with two additional diving events.
A total of 183 swimmers were selected from 52 schools. Defending national champion Queens (N.C.) received the maximum of 18 individual bids, Cal-San Diego was second with 13 selections, and Sunshine State Conference champion Tampa was tied with Wingate (N.C.) for third most with 10. Every other school in the SSC that sponsors women's swimming received at least one bid with Nova Southeastern getting seven, Lynn four, Rollins two, and Florida Tech and Saint Leo one apiece.
DeGrace will be wrapping up her career as a Moccasin by making her fourth trip to the national finals. She was selected to compete in the 200-breaststroke, an event she won at last week's SSC Championships with a school-record time that puts her No. 11 on the national list. She has competed in both breaststroke events at the national finals each of the last three years and is eligible to do so again this year with an NCAA "B" time in the 100 as well as the 200. DeGrace has won two previous All-American awards by swimming the breaststroke leg on the 400-medley relay team.
Moore was selected for three freestyle events, the 1000, 200, and 500, the same three in which she earned an invitation last year as a transfer from North Texas. She was an honorable mention All-American in the 1000 and had two other All-American awards as a relay swimmer. This year, she has additional eligibility in the 1650, but has national top-10 times in the other three, including No. 4 in the 500-free where she missed an NCAA "A" cut by half a second while setting a new school record. Moore won the 200-free at the SSC Championships to land at No. 5 on the national times list and collected silver medals in the 500 and 1000.
Wallen, who did not swim at the SSC Championships, was picked in the 400-IM, but could also compete in the 100-freestyle where she still had the Moccasins' No. 2 time this season. Although this is Wallen's first trip to the NCAA Division II National Finals, she was a nine-time All-American at Indian River State College and was the 400-IM national champion as a sophomore prior to coming to Florida Southern.
Among the relay swimmers, Karas has the longest resume, being selected as a freshman and sophomore in the sprints before competing in the relays last year as a junior. She has already been an All-American or honorable mention All-American eight times 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 in her home state of Indiana 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.
Competition each day of the national meet is split into two sessions, with preliminaries at 10:00 a.m., and finals in those same events at 6 p.m. The top eight swimmers from the various prelims advance to the championship finals that night, with the next eight advancing to the consolation finals. (There are no prelims for the 1,000-freestyle, the 1,650-freestyle, or the 800-freestyle relay. Those events have only timed finals in different heats.)
Queens (N.C.) has won the last four Division II National Championships, with Drury (Mo.) finishing as runner-up in three of them (2015, 2017, and 2018). Drury has finished first or second at the nation finals 21 of the last 22 years. Florida Southern's best finish came in 2013 when the Moccasins were sixth, which is one of their four top-10 finishes.