Bonnie Zhang

Bonnie Zhang is the third JMU swimmer ever to qualify for the Swimming & Diving National Championships.

By the end of the first day of the 2020 CAA Swim and Dive Championships, JMU was fourth on the leaderboard. But when the championship ended, JMU was on the top.

Day Two was strong for the Dukes, as they placed first on the leaderboard. Junior Julianna Jones took part in the 500-m freestyle finals and placed first, winning the gold medal with a season-best time of 4:45.16.

Two JMU seniors had season-best times in the 200-m individual medley finals and the 50-m freestyle finals. Megan Marsh finished fourth in the 200 IM finals with a time of 2:03.22, and Bonnie Zhang in the 50-m freestyle finals also finished fourth with a time of 22.79. 

Three Dukes placed in the top three of the diving finals, with senior Hope Byrum taking home gold with a score of 318.15, junior Sarah Stim earning silver with a score of 307.75 and junior Faith Anderson winning bronze.

The 200-m freestyle relay finals were a success for the Dukes, as they placed second with a time of 1:32.6. On Day Two, Zhang and junior Emily Gross helped the Dukes add to their total points to help keep them on the top of the leaderboard. 

“Tonight was a lot of fun,” head coach Dane Pedersen said to JMU Athletics. “We are building into this championship well; I am excited for the sessions ahead.”

Day Three was again successful for JMU. Sophomore Morgan Whaley won the 100-yard butterfly for the second time in a row. Whaley also won the gold medal for the 100-butterfly with a time of 53.47.

Zhang won the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:46.44. Marsh took hold of the bronze in the 100-yard breaststroke finals with a time of 1:02.27.

In the last event of Day Three, freshman Isabel Anbar, Marsh, Whaley and Zhang placed third in the 400-yard medley relay finals with a time of 3:41.33.

The final day for the Dukes came Saturday night. Three Dukes placed in the top three; Jones won the gold in the 1650-yard freestyle event for the second time in a row, clocking in at 16:21.14; junior Bailey Butler won the silver with a time of 16:50.24; and junior Kristie Darmody came in third with a time of 16:53.24.

Anbar and Zhang both placed second in their events, with Anbar having a time of 1:58.54 in the 200-yard backstroke and Zhang having a time of 48.91 in the 100-yard freestyle – her fastest time this season. Gross and Byrum were both in the top three in the 1-meter diving finals, with Gross tying for gold with a score of 298.05 and Byrum taking home bronze with a score of 287.85. Seven JMU divers took part in the 1-meter diving finals, and all had an NCAA Zone qualifying score.

Marsh, senior MacKenzie Gring and junior Sydney Kirsch were the team representing the Dukes in the 400-yard freestyle. They won the event for the second year in a row.

“Winning a championships is difficult and something we respect greatly,” head coach Pedersen said to JMU Athletics. “I'm really happy for this group, especially the seniors who have given and provided so much to our program.”

JMU’s next meet for the divers that qualified is the NCAA Zone A Diving Championships March 9-10 in Morgantown, West Virginia, and JMU’s next meet for swimmers that qualified for the NCAA Championships will be March 18-21 in Athens, Georgia.

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