LAWRENCE, Kan. – For the first time in the history of the swimming and diving program, Franklin College was represented at the Collegiate Open Water National Championships, an annual competition sponsored by the College Swim Coaches Association of America (CSCAA).
Junior Kevin Gast and junior Brynna Sentel faced off against the top collegiate swimmers from across all NCAA divisions. In order to qualify for the event, each had to meet a certain time in either the 500 yard freestyle or the 1650 freestyle during competition in 2018-19. Brownsburg, Ind.-native Gast punched his ticket to the event with his performance in the 1650 free at last year's conference championship while Sentel hit her cut time in the 500 freestyle at the same meet.
Only 54 men and 82 women from around the country were accepted to compete in the event that took place at Lone Star Lake near the University of Kansas.
The men's race took place first and Gast used his past open-water experience to trek the 3.1 mile course. In the end, he finished in 37th place overall, clocking in with a time of 1:10:43.9. The women's race followed and Sentel, competing in her first ever open-water event, shook of the nerves and battled a competitive field of swimmers to finish with a time of 1:14:00.9, good for a 60th-place finish.
"This was the first time our Grizzlies have qualified and been accepted in to the open water national championships," said head coach Andy Hendricks. "Kevin and Brynna had awesome swims last year at the HCAC meet and were able to qualify for this event. With swimmers from all divisions and all over the country in attendance, it was fabulous to be a part of and I am very proud of both for blazing yet another trail for our program."
The Grizzlies will begin preparations for the 2019-20 season soon. The first event of the year takes place on Sept. 19, when Franklin heads to West Lafayette, Ind. for the Indiana Intercollegiates.