Litschgi Claims Fourth National Championship; Maroons Swimming & Diving Teams Earn New Bests at NCAAs

Byrne Litschgi
Byrne Litschgi

GREENSBORO, N.C. – For just the fourth time in school history, the University of Chicago swimming and diving team claimed a national championship with men's junior Byrne Litschgi's thrilling victory in the 200-yard backstroke to cap the final day of the NCAA Division III national championships Saturday.

Litschgi, who swum the fastest time in the day's morning prelims, won the event finals with a school-record time of 1:44.04 to win UChicago's third individual crown, joining Kris Alden (100 breakstroke, 1987) and Abby Erdmann (200 butterfly, 2014). It was also the first national title for the Maroons since 2015, when the men's 400 freestyle relay team of Mantim Lee, Thomas Meek, Jeremy Estes and Matthew Veldman earned the championship.

One race later, classmate Lance Culjat came just .43 seconds away from earning one more title, as he became UChicago's second national runner-up of 2019 by taking second in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 1:57.77. He joined UChicago's Agnes Lo, who took second in the 3-meter dive Wednesday.

Sophomore Gillian Gagnard earned UChicago's third full All-American honor of the day with her sixth-place finish in the women's 200 backstroke event, swimming a time of 2:01.35. She joined her 400 free relay teammates Nicole Lin, Daria Wick and Hannah Eastman a few races later, as the squad captured the Consolation Final win to take ninth (3:25.63) and earn Honorable Mention All-American honors.

Sophomore Keda Song also claimed Honorable Mention All-American nods in the men's 200 backstroke, finishing 14th (1:48.86).

In all, the UChicago women placed 6th (171 points) and the men were eighth (153 points), as both teams set new school records for points at the national meet as well as earning their highest-ever respective finishes.  The previous best for both teams was 10th.

In addition, Becky Benson was named the NCAA Division III Women's Diving National Coach of the Year after leading her four-member squad to eight All-American honors. All four divers -- Lo, Elizabeth Cron, Anna Girlich and Alice Saparov each earned two All-American honors in both 3-meter and 1-meter events, with Lo and Cron taking home full honors. Lo led the way with her second- and third-place respective finishes. 

 

Men
200 back – 1, Byrne Litschgi (1:44.04); 14, Keda Song (1:48.86)
200 breaststroke – 2, Lance Culjat (1:57.77)

Women
200 back – 6, Gillian Gagnard (2:01.35)
400 free relay – 9, Nicole Lin, Daria Wick, Gillian Gagnard, Hannah Eastman (3:25.63)

 

Prelims
Men
100 free – 31, Alexander Farrell (45.55)
200 back – 26, Michael Todd (1:50.38)
200 breaststroke – 24, Reona Yamaguchi (2:03.89)
400 free relay – 17, Keenan Novis, Alexander Farrell, Jonathan Mendley, Byrne Litschgi (3:03.33)

Women
1650 free – 21, Audrey Mason (17:33.27); 25, Taylor Hammill (17:38.93)
200 breaststroke – 17, Margaret Wolfson (2:20.61); 22, Nadia Redza (2:23.62); 26, Simone Stover (2:24.63)