INDIANAPOLIS – Six members of the Florida Southern men's swimming team have been selected for the NCAA Division II National Championships in Indianapolis at the IU Natatorium, March 13-16, and four additional Moccasins are making the trip as relay swimmers. Earning spots from Florida Southern are seniors Nico Campbell, Matthew Holmes, and Luka Planinc, and sophomores Miguel Bernotti, Brandon Dyck, and Matias Lopez. All six of those selections took part in last year's national finals, and all of them brought home at least one individual All-American award.
First-year head coach Andy Robins also elected to fill out his roster by taking senior Charles Gotsch, junior Talor Hamilton, sophomore Carlos Bernotti and freshman Dorian Bachlaj to compete strictly in the various relay events. Teams may bring up to four additional individuals in that capacity, and all but Hamilton will be making their first appearance at the national finals.
Swimmers earn automatic spots by achieving NCAA "A" times throughout the season, but can also be selected based on the strength of their "B" times. Once a swimmer has been chosen to compete in a specific event or events at the National Finals, they may compete in any additional event in which they achieved the NCAA "B" standard. However, each swimmer is limited to no more than four individual events, or seven total events including relays. The National Finals feature 14 individual events and five relay races with two additional diving events.
A total of 157 swimmers were selected, representing 34 different schools. That list was topped by defending national champion Queens (N.C.) with 13. Lindenwood (Mo.) and Cal-San Diego tied for the second most selections with 10. Delta State (Miss.) and Simon Fraser (B.C.) each had nine. Nova Southeastern had the most selections from the Sunshine State Conference with the league champions sending eight. Tampa matched Florida Southern's total of six, Saint Leo and Florida Tech had three apiece, and Rollins had two, giving every SSC men's swimming program representation at the finals.
Holmes is going to the national finals for the fourth year in a row and is looking to add to his collection of 13 previous All-American awards. Seven of those have been earned as an individual swimmer, including one as the 2018 Division II National Champion in the 400-IM. He was selected in that event again this year, had an automatic qualifying time in the 200-IM, and earned selection in both breaststroke events. He won gold medals at the SSC Championships in all four of the events he will be swimming in Indianapolis, and goes there as the No. 1 seed in the 400-IM, and No. 2 in the 200-IM.
Campbell is making his third appearance at the Division II National Finals and was picked in the 200-freestyle and 100-free. As the SSC runner-up this year in the 200-free, Campbell is No. 8 on the national times list for an event in which he has already twice earned honorable mention All-American honors. He was also the Mocs' best swimmer in the 100-free this season and came within 1.03 seconds of an automatic qualifying time. Campbell could also compete in the 50-free, and is a three-time national medalist in either the 200- or 800-freestyle relays.
Planinc again makes the trip to the national finals as Florida Southern's top distance swimmer, earning selection in the 200-, 500-, 1000-, and 1650-freestyle. He hauled off medals in all four events at last week's SSC Championships, including a gold in the 1650. Planinc earned honorable mention All-American status last year in the 500 and 1000, and is No. 8 on the national times list in the 500 this year. Along with Holmes and Campbell, he helped the Moccasins claim a silver medal in the 800-freestyle relay at the 2018 national finals
Lopez was picked for three events this year, and all three resulted in All-American or honorable mention All-American finishes last year. His best finish came in the 200-back where he placed seventh, and he'll also be going back in both individual medley events. Lopez has national top-10 times in the 200-back and 400-IM, was the SSC runner-up to Holmes in the 400-IM, and has additional eligibility in the 100-back.
For the second year in a row, Dyck was selected for both backstroke events, though he can also compete in the 100-fly and 50-free where he ranked first and second respectively on the Florida Southern times list. As a backstroke swimmer, however, Dyck was the SSC champion in the 100 for the second year in a row, finished eighth in that event at the national finals as a freshman, and was ninth in the 200. Dyck and Holmes are the only returning swimmers from last year's national runner-up 400-medley relay team.
Miguel Bernotti claimed a spot in the 200-fly for the second time in as many seasons after setting the school record at the SSC Championships. He now ranks No. 7 on the national times list and also qualifies for the 100-fly. He was an honorable mention in the 200 last year.
Hamilton went to last year's national finals in the 50-free and earned a bronze medal as part of the 200-freestyle relay. This year he earned bronze medals in two relay events at the SSC Championships and provided the butterfly leg on the Mocs' top 200- and 400-medley teams. Those medals came in the 200-freestyle relay and 400-medley relay.
Carlos Bernotti is another sprinter who picked up a pair of relay medals at the SSC Championships, earning a bronze in the 200-free and a silver in the 400-free. The Moccasins will go to the finals at No. 11 and No. 9 respectively in those two relays on the national times list.
Gotsch has been a provisional qualifier in the 500, 1000, and 1650 two years in a row, but will now be asked to help the Mocs continue their national-level success in the relays. As a member of the 800-freestyle team, Gotsch teamed up with Campbell, Planinc, and Holmes to win a gold medal at the SSC Championships and post the nation's second fastest time in that event this season.
Bachlaj is the only Florida Southern freshman for either the men or women to go to nationals this year after competing primarily as a breaststroke swimmer. He did have NCAA provisional times in both of those events and manned those legs in the 200-medley relay and 400-medley relay. The 400 team earned a bronze medal at the SSC Championships.
Competition each day of the national meet is split into two sessions, with preliminaries at 10:00 a.m., and finals in those same events at 6 p.m. The top eight swimmers from the various prelims advance to the championship finals that night, with the next eight advancing to the consolation finals. (There are no prelims for the 1,000-freestyle, the 1,650-freestyle, or the 800-freestyle relay. Those events have only timed finals in different heats.)
Queens (N.C.) has won the last four Division II National Championships, ending a 10-year run by Drury (Mo.) which stretched from 2005-14. Drury has still been the runner-up twice during Queen's current four-year reign. Florida Southern's best finish came in 2013 and 2014 when the Moccasins were the national runner-up. The Mocs are the only team in the country to finish in the top-five the last seven years and placed fourth in 2018.