With spring break winding down, senior Meghan Leddy and freshman Courtney Otto spent their final days away from classes in Auburn, Ala., for the NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships from Thursday through Saturday.
In the end, neither of the two swimmers posted strong enough times in the opening session to make it back for the finals in the afternoon sessions.
“I thought both Meghan and Courtney represented Harvard very well,” Crimson coach Stephanie Morawski said. “This is a very competitive meet, and you really have to get out there in the morning swim to be able to make it back for the finals at night.”
Morawski said the atmosphere of the meet was different from what the swimmers are used to.
“This is [Leddy and Otto’s] first time coming to NCAAs, and there’s a lot of emotion involved,” Morawski said. “We won the Ivy league championships. To come back from that, where you’re surrounded by the team and everything is team first, and then to come out here with just two swimmers, it’s a very different environment.”
Otto first stepped up on the block on Thursday to swim the 500-yard freestyle and finished in 4:51.65, earning her 54th at the meet.
“It was nice to focus on one event [each day],” Otto said. “But it was also a little nerve-wracking, knowing I only had one chance per day.”
During the Friday session, Leddy finished the 100 backstroke with a time of 55.72. Her time was just .56 seconds off of her personal best—also the school record—placing her at 59th overall.
“It was a little bit of a different meet, a different ball game,” Leddy said. “I think we both had strong swims, not our best times.”
Otto also competed on Friday and clocked in at 4:14.58 in the 400 IM, good for 30th.
“I was pretty happy overall,” Otto said. “I didn’t go the times I had wanted to go, but having experience, especially freshman year, is really crucial to going forward.”
Both women competed again on Saturday, Leddy in the 200 backstroke and Otto in the 200 fly. Leddy finished her final race of her Crimson career in 1:58.48, taking 42nd place. Otto ended up 24th in her last event with a time of 1:57.47, .62 seconds away from qualifying for the finals.
Though neither swimmer made it to the afternoon, Morawski was pleased that the women qualifed for the championships in the first place.
“It is so special to be invited to the NCAA,” Morawski said. “There are only 30 people in the country per event to be invited. And when you have 350 Division I schools and a lot of them with scholarships, to be in the top 30 in the country is something.”
—Staff writer Chelsea Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.