posted March 13, 2000

Flying Dutch Sixth at Nationals

Hope College maintained its tradition of excellence in women's swimming and diving with a top ten finish, a national champion and All-America performances in 10 events at the NCAA Division III championships in Atlanta, Ga.

The Flying Dutch finished sixth in the final team standings marking the 10th consecutive year that coach John Patnott's Flying Dutch have been a top-ten team nationally. Kenyon of Ohio repeated as national champions with 619 points. Hope ended with 218 points.

Junior Betsy VandenBerg of Beverly Hills, Mich. (Southfield Christian HS) captured the gold medal in the 200-yard breaststroke to become Hope's 18th Division III national champion in an individual event.

VandenBerg, who was seeded fourth in the event, quickly served notice of her intent as she established a national record time in the preliminaries. She was clocked in 2:18.68, easily surpassing the old Division III mark of 2:19.19. Her time in the finals (2:19.06) also beat the old record.

VandenBerg was an individual All-American three times, finishing third in both the 100-yard breaststroke and 200-yard individual medley.

Her gold medal effort provides Hope with a rare opportunity to have the national champion in both the women's and men's 200-yard breaststroke. Sophomore Josh Boss competes in the men's Division III championships next week as the defending national champion in the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke events.

Senior Erinn Van Auken of Holland (West Ottawa HS) became the most decorated female All-American in Hope swimming history. She was an All-American five times at this year's nationals, raising her career total to 24, one better than the 23 gathered by Shelly Russell in the mid 1980s. Van Auken was an individual All-American eight times and a member of an All-America relay team 16 times. This year she finished seventh in both the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle and anchored three All-America relay teams.

Seniors Llena Durante of Chicago (Whitney Young HS) and Kari Jackson of Canton (Plymouth-Canton HS) closed out their careers with All-America performances. Durante finished sixth in the 100-yard butterfly and swam on three All-America relay teams. She was also an honorable mention All-American with a ninth place finish in the 50-yard freestyle. She ended her career an NCAA All-American 16 times, twice in individual events and 14 times in relay. Jackson was fifth in diving on the one-meter board and 11th on the three-meter board.

Freshman Erin VandenBerg of Beverly Hills (Southfield Christian HS) was an honorable mention All-American with a 13th place finish in the 1,650-yard freestyle.

The Dutch were fourth in both the 200-yard and 400-yard medley relay events with a team of senior Colleen Doyle of Rochester Hills, Mich. (Marian HS), Betsy VandenBerg, Durante and Van Auken.

Hope achieved All-America status in the meet's final event -- the 400-yard freestyle relay -- in an unusual way and it involved rival Calvin. Swimming side-by-side, Hope and Calvin tied for eighth place in the qualifying round in 3:35.90. The top eight teams advance to the championship heat so a swim-off was needed. After a 30-minute rest, the Flying Dutch won the swim-off with a season-best time of 3:33.73 and later in the championship heat finished seventh (3:34.33) to achieve All-America status. Calvin, meanwhile, ended 16th overall with an eighth place finish in the consolation heat. Members of Hope's relay team were Durante, sophomore Laura Smith of Dearborn (Dearborn HS), Betsy VandenBerg and Van Auken.

The 200-yard freestyle relay gained honorable mention All-America recognition with an 11th place finish with a team of Durante, sophomore Jenna Anderson of Cincinnati, Ohio (Anderson HS), Smith and Van Auken.