Young swims and Flanagan dives for Mac at nationals

By Daniel Kerwin

This year’s NCAA Division III swimming and diving championships were historic in many different ways for Macalester. Not only did Macalester host the event, which took place at the University of Minnesota, but the college also had two participants in the event for the first time in recent history. Nathan Young ’11 qualified for the national championships for the second year in a row, qualifying as an A-cut swimmer in two different swimming events, and Annie Flanagan ’09 qualified for the first time after an outstanding senior season on the diving board.

Young swam the 100-yard and 200-yard backstroke events and the 50-yard freestyle event at the meet, and Flanagan competed in her customary 1-meter and 3-meter dive categories.

Flanagan best finish was a ninth place finish in the 3-meter dive, while Young’s best finish was a twelfth place finish in the 100-yard backstroke.

“It was a great way to finish off my career, a culmination of all the work,” Flanagan said. “I didn’t know what to expect, I’d never been at that level of competition before. I performed pretty consistently, I’m not disappointed at all.”

Making nationals was especially impressive for Flanagan due to the tough criteria that divers face in their pursuit of qualification, having to record a qualifying score twice during the season as well as submitting a video of one of their meets.

“It’s not uncommon you get a qualifying score and then not make nationals,” Flanagan said, “I had never even had a qualifying score until this year, the difference was that I had a new coach and it changed everything.”

Young took a different approach to the event, looking to achieve specific times in his races.

“In the long run I did alright,” Young said. “I had very specific goals, and I didn’t achieve them. When you’re working with small margins, victory and defeat are less than a second apart.”

Despite not swimming in his desired times, Young did drop a second from his performance from a year ago.

Young said that every season he looks forward to improving, and has specific goals to swim in 49 seconds in the 100-yard backstroke and in 21 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle. He hopes that as a result of his improvements he will return to nationals again next year.

When Young qualified for nationals last season, he was he first Macalester swimmer or diver to reach nationals since Heather Lenway ’06. Flanagan is one of perhaps only two divers in Macalester history to make nationals.

Assistant Coach Tina Neill was the meet director for nationals, coordinating all of Macalester’s hosting efforts. The men’s and women’s national competitions are usually held separately, but this year they were held in conjunction for the first time, which allowed Young and Flanagan to share in the experience.

The historic ending to the swim and dive season added a fitting chapter to an already historic season, the team’s first in the new Riley Pool. Young talked about one on one morning swims he would do with Head Coach Bob Pearson in preparation for nationals, watching the sun come through the window to the east and roll across the pool during the practice.

“Mad props to the architect,” Young said.