INDIANAPOLIS — With 100 yards to go and a second consecutive NCAA Championship in the 200 breaststroke on the line, Occidental star swimmer Steven van Deventer was in fourth.
But he looked a lot more relaxed, composed and confident than the rest of the field. After all, he'd been in this spot just one year earlier and he had a patient strategy.
"Long and smooth first 100 (yards), with five strokes per length, and then sprint the final 100 to bring it home," van Deventer said.
He hit the gas midway through the race and blew past the rest of the field, winning his second consecutive national championship in the event, while setting the SCIAC record and posting the second best time in Division III history in the process.
"It was amazing," van Deventer said. "I fist pumped, screamed and noticed I was .4 seconds away from the national record."
The junior hit the wall in 1 minute, 58.21 seconds. He'll have one more shot at adding a third NCAA championship and a crack at Rory Buck's 2011 record of 1:57.79 next season.
"I was in fourth at the 100 mark and the strategy pushed me to the front. Shea (Manning) is a great coach," van Deventer said. "I'm setting my sights on breaking that record."
His momentum inspired teammate Caroline Chang who swam the heat after him in the women's 200 breast.
"I saw Vandy win it the heat before me and it pumped me up a lot, just seeing his face and seeing how happy he was," Chang said. "I'm happy it worked out for both of us. We worked so hard all season."
Chang, a senior, closed out her career with her fourth All-American honor, finishing her final race in 2:20.38.
"It feels pretty surreal at the moment. I can't believe I'm done with my swimming career," Chang said. "I was so happy to make it back to the night session and swim the 200 breast one more time."
A little bit earlier in the day, Oxy senior diver Jessica Robson finished 14th in the 3-meter diving competition, ensuring that all three Oxy swimmers scored and earned All-American honors. The entire meet was icing on the cake for Robson, who won 7 of 8 SCIAC championships in diving, but hadn't competed on the national stage.
"It's really exciting," Robson said. "To go from not doing my best on Thursday to doing a whole lot better today felt great."
The Oxy men's team placed 23rd. The women finished 43rd.
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