Thielen becomes first Cardinal to earn All-American honors at NCAA Championships

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Sophomore Amanda Thielen highlighted the NCAA Division II Championships for the SVSU women’s swim and dive team, becoming the lone Cardinal to ever be named All-American in swimming. Thielen’s 8th place finish in the 200-yard backstroke gave the Cardinals 11 of its 32 points for the competition en route to a 25th place overall finish for the team. The men’s team only had one competitor and did not score any points as a team.

“I believe with every meet there are highs and lows, but I think there were more good than bad swims at this meet,” Thielen said. “It is very hard to come back from a fully tapered conference meet and perform well at NCAAs.”

On the first day of the competition, which took place in Birmingham, Alabama, the 200-yard medley team consisting of Thielen, freshman Alexa Bloom, sophomore Lydia Mattar and junior Melanie Soenksen scored 14 points for the team. The relay finished in 10th place with a time of 1:43.36.

Soenksen also qualified for the 50-yard freestyle. She finished 21st with a time of 23.59.
Mattar competed in the 200-yard IM and timed out at 2:05.89, placing 26th.

The second day of competition saw the team score more points.

The 400-yard medley relay team of Thielen, Bloom, Mattar and Soenksen placed 15th. Their time of 3:50.38 garnered the team four points, bringing the total to 18 points through two days of the championships.

Mattar also placed 17th in the 400-yard IM with a time of 4:27.23. She was joined by teammate Rebeca Martinez, who placed 25th in the same event. The junior finished with a time of 4:30.98.

The relay team of Soenksen, Bloom, sophomore Alexandra Davis and sophomore Taylor Grashuis competed in the 200-yard freestyle. The group of four placed 31st, sporting a time of 1:37.38.

Day three of the competition saw the Cardinals gain more points, coming to a total of 21 as Thielen placed 14th overall in the 100-yard backstroke, collecting the three points of the day for the team. She swam a 56.64 in the finals.

Mattar competed in the 100-yard backstroke. She completed the event with a time of 1:03.88, which netted her 26th place.

Junior Shaun Yap was the lone participant from the men’s team. Yap swam the 100-yard breaststroke and missed out on finals by one place. He finished 17th in the preliminaries with a time of 55.06 seconds.

The fourth and final day of competition saw the Cardinals gain 11 additional points on Thielen’s All-American showing in the 200-yard backstroke, bringing their Championship total to 32. She finished the event with a time of 2:02.42.

Mattar finished 20th overall in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:18.16.

The 400-yard freestyle relay team finished 33rd in the program’s final event of the Championships. Martinez, Davis, Bloom and Soenksen finished with a time of 3:32.50.

After Nationals, Thielen praised the team’s performance and is looking ahead to next season with increased expectations.

“We did an excellent job at keeping morale high throughout the tough swims,” Thielen said. “The coaches were very satisfied with our performances as well. Looking forward to next season, we are very excited to get back to work. This meet has excited and inspired us all to strive for further greatness. Our ultimate goal, as always, is to continue improving as a team.”