By Casady Fletcher for OCCC
The 2015 NAIA Men’s and Women’s Swimming & Diving National Championships kicked off Thursday, March 5, at the Oklahoma City Community College Natatorium. Men’s 3-Meter Diving and Women’s 1-Meter Diving events originally scheduled for Wednesday, March 6, were postponed until Saturday afternoon due to travel concerns. A total of 11 national champions were awarded on Thursday and three new NAIA National Championship records were set.
SCAD Savannah (Ga.) sophomore Joel Ax shattered the record by nearly three seconds in the Men’s 500-Yard Freestyle (4:21.93), set by former Bees’ swimmer Alex Graudins in 2012. The previous record was 4:24.63. Christine Tixier of Biola (Calif.) set an NAIA National Championship record in the Women’s 200-Yard Individual Medley (2:02.75). It was the oldest-standing record in the NAIA, set in 1993 by Laurette Hakansson of former-member Drury (Mo.). Oklahoma Baptist diver Zak Rowton set a new record on his way to capturing the Men’s 1-Meter Diving title with a score of 312.65.
The Bison took home the first national title of the night in the Women’s 200-Yard Medley Relay. The women finished in 1:41.87, narrowly missing the championship record by less than half a second. Oklahoma Baptist men defended their title in the Men’s 200-Yard Medley Relay with a finals time of 1:27.13.
Sophomore Courtney Hayward of Brenau (Ga.) took home the title in the Women’s 500-Yard Freestyle in 4:56.87. Jacob Anderson was crowned champion in the Men’s 200-Yard Individual Medley, finishing in 1:49.92.
Oklahoma Baptist women took the top four spots in the Women’s 50-Yard Freestyle, with Laura Galarza defending her title with a time of 22.47. David Lambert of St. Andrews (N.C.) took the Men’s 50-Yard Freestyle in 19.81, coming one-tenth of a second away from the record in the event.
Defending champion Oklahoma Baptist took the Women’s 800-Yard Freestyle Relay with a time of 7:36.33. Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) had the fastest team in the Men’s 800-Yard Freestyle Relay at 6:39.73, narrowly edging out Oklahoma Baptist and SCAD Savannah (Ga.).
At the conclusion of the first day of events, Oklahoma Baptist leads in both the men’s and women’s team rankings. Bison men have 262.5 points, followed by Olivet Nazarene at 191.5 and Concordia (Calif.) with 118. The women lead with 195 points, with SCAD Savannah (Ga.) (137) and Brenau (Ga.) (124) in second and third place.
Day two action will begin with preliminaries at 9 a.m. Friday, March 6, at the Oklahoma City Community College Natatorium. Finals are set to start tomorrow night at 5 p.m.
2015 NAIA Swimming & Diving National Champions
Women’s 200-Yard Medley Relay: Oklahoma Baptist – 1:41.84
Men’s 200-Yard Medley Relay: Oklahoma Baptist – 1:27.13
Women’s 500-Yard Freestyle: Courtney Hayward, Brenau (Ga.) – 4:56.87
Men’s 500-Yard Freestyle: Joel Ax, SCAD Savannah (Ga.) – 4:21.93*
Women’s 200-Yard Individual Medley: Christine Tixier, Biola (Calif.) – 2:02.75*
Men’s 200-Yard Individual Medley: Jacob Anderson, Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) – 1:49.92
Women’s 50-Yard Freestyle: Laura Galarza, Oklahoma Baptist – 22.47
Men’s 50-Yard Freestyle: David Lambert, St. Andrews (N.C.) – 19.81
Women’s 800-Yard Freestyle Relay: Oklahoma Baptist – 7:36.33
Men’s 800-Yard Freestyle Relay: Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) – 6:39.73
Men’s 1-Meter Diving: Zak Rowton, Oklahoma Baptist – 312.65*
* NAIA Swimming & Diving National Championship Record