WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Highlighted by the individual invitations bestowed upon four Boilermakers, seven Purdue women's swimmers have learned they have earned the opportunity to race at the NCAA Championships.
Kaersten Meitz is ranked among the top 12 nationally in both the 500 and 1,650 freestyle, earning her fourth consecutive bid to the national championship meet. Taite Kitchel and Emmy Rawson qualified for the second time in their careers. Olympian Jinq En Phee will add the NCAA Championships to her already impressive international résumé.
The Boilermakers also have a qualifying relay for the first time since 2015. Freshmen Gretta DeCoursey, Megan Johnson and Maizie Seidl will team with Meitz in the 800 free relay, which is now contested on Wednesday night to open the meet. It will be the first time that Meitz has competed in a relay at the national championship meet.
Meitz is the seventh member of women's swim-dive to qualify for the NCAA Championships four times. She joins Emily Fogle, Lindsay Lange, Casey Matthews and Rhiannon Sheets among those that qualified four times as an individual.
Seidl wasn't even part of Purdue's travel roster for Big Tens until she impressed in her three freestyle races at the Ohio State Winter Invite the weekend of Feb. 10 to 11. She not only earned the final spot on the Boilermakers' roster for Big Tens, but was also placed on the 400 and 800 free relays. Now she's headed to the national championship meet.
Ohio State's McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion is serving as the host pool of both the Big Ten Championships and NCAA Championships this year. It marks the first time a Big Ten aquatic center is hosting NCAAs since Minnesota in 2014.
Divers earn their NCAA berths based on their performances at the Zone Championships. Purdue competes in the Zone C meet again, set for March 8 to 10 also in Columbus. The national championship meet invitations for the men's swimmers will be announced next week. To qualify for an individual event, a swimmer's time had to rank among the top 36 to 40 nationally, depending on the event.
Phee earned her invitation in the 100 breaststroke, ranking 20th nationally. Kitchel and Rawson qualified via the 200 butterfly. Both swimmers have held the program record in the event twice this season. Rawson's time of 1:55.95 at the Big Ten Championships made her the first Boilermaker to break 1:56 in the event. A week later at the Boiler-Make-It NCAA last chance meet, Kitchel regained the record with a time of 1:55.90. Had she not dropped her time below 1:56, she would not have qualified for NCAAs again this season.
Even though the 200 free is not her premier event, Meitz's season-best time in the event would still been enough to earn her an NCAAs invite. She's ranked 37th nationally in the 200 free.
Individual qualifiers that owned NCAA provisional-qualifying times ("B cuts") in other events also have an opportunity to compete in those races. That applies for Kitchel and Rawson in the 100 fly and 200 individual medley as well as Phee in the 200 breast. Whether or not they choose to race in those events traditionally depends on the event schedule for each swimmer.
The NCAA Championships are set for March 14 to 17.
2018 PURDUE WOMEN'S SWIMMING NCAAs QUALIFIERS
Event, Time (National Rank)
* -- Purdue Record Time
Kaersten Meitz (NCAAs Qualifier: 2015 to 2018)
500 Free, 4:36.59* (6th)
1650 Free, 15:54.41* (12th)
200 Free, 1:44.90 (37th)
Jinq En Phee (NCAAs Qualifier: First Time)
100 Breast, 59.66 (20th)
200 Breast, 2:11.57 (47th)
Taite Kitchel (NCAAs Qualifier: 2017, 2018)
200 Fly, 1:55.90* (34th)
100 Fly, 52.91 (47th)
200 IM, 2:00.09 (73rd)
Emmy Rawson (NCAAs Qualifier: 2016, 2018)
200 Fly, 1:55.95 (35th)
100 Fly, 53.06 (48th)
200 IM, 1:59.70 (67th)
800 Free Relay, 7:07.40 (26th)