MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – For the second straight season, sophomore Caroline Murphy of the Wesleyan University women's swimming & diving team has qualified on the individual side for the NCAA Division III Championship, as she will compete in three events on March 21-24 in Indianapolis, Ind.
The Cardinals' elite relay unit of senior captain Zoe Kerrich, Murphy, and sophomores Hannah O'Halloran and Grace Middleton will also compete on the national stage as a result of their school record time of 3:28.01 in the 400-yard freestyle relay at the Women's February Invitational on Feb. 25. The sensational performance resulted in an NCAA "B" Consideration Standard, and is the 11th-fastest time in the country for Division III, as Kerrich got the ball rolling with a varsity record of 51.93 in the 100 freestyle during the leadoff leg.
"I could not be prouder of this relay," said Cardinals sixth-year head coach Peter Solomon. "With the disqualification of this relay at the NESCAC Championship, it would have been easy for these four athletes to get discouraged and not want to participate in the February Invite. However, after gaining approval to compete, these courageous swimmers were able to keep their focus and dig deep within themselves to race one more time. It took a true team effort to make this happen, and I give these women a lot of credit for never giving up."
As a result of the 400 freestyle relay team being invited to the national championship, the four women are allowed to compete in all five relay events. Kerrich, Murphy, O'Halloran and Middleton will also take their talents to the 200 medley relay (Wednesday), and the 200 freestyle and 400 medley relay (Thursday), while the 400 freestyle relay will occur on Saturday.
Murphy, a Gardiner, N.Y. native, turned many heads up at Williams College on Feb. 16-18 at the conference championship, as she was the NESCAC champion in the 50 backstroke (26.18) and the 100 backstroke (55.99) en route to earning All-NESCAC honors in both events. The standout swimmer will take part in the 50 freestyle (Wednesday), the 100 backstroke (Thursday) and the 100 freestyle (Saturday).
At the 2017 national stage in Shenandoah, Texas, Murphy earned Honorable Mention All-American accolades with a 13th-place finish in the final of the 100 backstroke (55.90). The top-eight performers in the finals collect All-American laurels, and the ninth through 16th finishers receive honorable mention recognition.