Courtney Hayward, a senior psychology major from Townsville, Australia, prepares to swim the 400 yard IM during the NAIA Swimming and Diving Championships on Friday, March 3, 2017 in Columbus, Ga. Hayward placed fifth in the event. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Golden Tigers Swimmers Complete 2017 Season Fourth in the Nation

Mar. 6, 2017
David Morrison

COLUMBUS, Georgia — The Golden Tigers swim team finished fourth in the 2017 NAIA Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving National Championships at the Columbus Aquatic Center – the team’s sixth consecutive year finishing near the top of national rankings.

Brenau senior Courtney Hayward from Townsville, Australia, provided a boost when she won the 1650-meter freestyle with a time of 17:19.77. Chloe Ireland, a freshman from Adelaide, Australia, also put points on the board when she placed seventh in the event.

Sophomore Lindsay Dowling from Winston, Georgia, placed sixth in the 200 backstroke with a time of 2:07.24, Yanne Toussaint, a freshman from Varsseveld, Netherlands, won the B-Final of the 200 yard breaststroke and placed ninth overall but had the sixth fastest finals time of 2:25.46.

Since the Golden Tigers broke into national prominence ranked No. 8 in the nation following the 2012 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics championship meet in Oklahoma City, the team has been a top contender – ranked sixth nationally in 2013, fourth in 2014 and third in both 2015 and 2016.

For four of those seasons, Hayward has been a major contributor – winning three straight 400 IM races in her first three years and going into Columbus this year as one national publication’s No. 1 swimmer to watch in the meet. However, the fourth win eluded her this year as she finished fifth, but the 1650 win helped her collect All-America honors for all four of her years at Brenau.

“Although this week didn’t go to plan for me, I haven’t let it define who I am and what I have gained at Brenau,” Hayward said. “I completed my collegiate journey with a win, but that is nothing compared to the many amazing successes and memories I have gained over these last four years. This has been an unforgettable experience with such a supportive team.”

In total, the Golden Tigers earned 12 top-10 finishes at the 2017 national championships to amass 264 total points.

Olivet Nazarene University from Illinois captured the championship with 639 points, while defending champs, SCAD-Savannah – also from Georgia – placed second with 632.5 points. Biola University from California took third place with 343 points.

Brenau head coach Nathan Rhoads was pleased overall for the team.

“I’m really proud of the ladies,” Rhoads said. “We had a lot of swimmers step up this weekend and come through for us. I’m proud of the leadership of our seniors, Madison Kosater and Courtney Hayward. They were key to the success of this meet.”

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