GREENSBORO, N.C. – All four qualifying Birmingham-Southern swimming and diving student-athletes competed in the opening day of the 2019 NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships on Wednesday.
The highlight of the day for the Panthers was the second-place finish by junior Becca Erwin (Duluth, Ga./Duluth HS) in the women's 500-yard freestyle championship final.
Erwin, who came into the event with the fastest qualifying time in the nation – 4:49.51 – finished seventh in the morning preliminaries with a time of 4:55.85, but the time put her into the championship heat with a chance to capture the title on Wednesday evening.
For the championship final, Erwin swam in lane one and, in the early stages of the race, maintained about a half-body length lead above her competition. It was in the final three turns or so that the defending national champion in the event, Laura Westphal of Williams, caught up to Erwin and turn the race into a fight to the finish.
Erwin finished the 500-yard freestyle final with a time of 4:48.25, one-tenth of a second behind Westphal, to take silver. The second-place finish was Erwin's best finish of her career at the NCAA Championships. She was named an All-American, and her time also broke her own school record of 4:49.51.
The BSC relay team of Erwin, Anna Jordan Luth (Pensacola, Fla./Booker T. Washington HS), Mary Beth Ronne (Athens, Tenn./McMinn County HS) and Mary Katherine Stewart (Daphne, Ala./Daphne HS) also competed on Wednesday. The Panthers participated in the 200-yard medley relay, finishing 28 th in the preliminaries with a time of 1:48.41.
All four BSC student-athletes will return to competition in the pool on Thursday. The relay team will start the day with the 200-yard freestyle relay and Erwin will race individually in the 200-yard freestyle relay, as well.
JOIN THE B-FUND TODAY – Support BSC Athletics today by joining the B-Fund. Gifts to the B-Fund help support all of our 22 sports teams, coaches, and 450+ student-athletes. Used as the common funding source for championship rings, championship banners, facility upgrades, new transportation, and more, the B-Fund allows the department to enhance the athletic experience of every student-athlete at Birmingham-Southern.