By Melissa Maykut
OXFORD, Ohio - After helping Miami University to an almost perfect regular season, then blowing away the competition to win the 2013 Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship, senior swimmer Bekka Westrick will compete at the 2013 NCAA Swimming Championships Mar. 21-23 in Indianapolis, Ind. for the first time in her RedHawk career.
Head coach Dave Jennings says competing at the NCAAs has been one of Westrick's goals as a RedHawk.
"She's very excited, but very relaxed," Jennings said. "She's bringing a nothing-to-lose attitude into this meet."
When the qualifying sheets were finalized, the Fairfield, Ohio native qualified for for three races at this weekend's NCAA championships. She is the first RedHawk to qualify for the NCAAs since 2011 when Kelsey Vehr finished 20th in the 100 breaststroke contest.
To kick off the meet, Westrick will race in Thursday morning's 50 freestyle preliminary heats. She enters the race with a qualifying time of 22.41, which she earned in the MAC preliminary race. The senior's time ranks 33rd in the country, just behind MAC foe Mallory Morrell, who won the 50 free MAC title for Buffalo with a 22.24 time.
Westrick will then continue competition Friday morning when she races in the 100 butterfly prelims. She qualified for this event with a 52.19 time that she recorded at this season's Miami Invitational. She set pool and varsity records, plus two meet records at the Invite with that swim. Westrick's 100 fly time currently ranks 37th nationally.
Finally, Westrick will close her NCAA competition with the 100 free preliminary event Saturday morning, qualifying for the race with a time that ranks 69th in the nation.
Westrick has had an outstanding senior year, helping her team to a 10-1 record overall and going undefeated in conference competition. Westrick holds Miami's individual fastest times in the 50 free (22.41), the 100 free (49.93), the 200 free (1:47.29), and the 100 fly (52.91).
At this year's MAC championships, Westrick finished runner-up in the 50 free behind Morrell's record-setting time, took sixth in the 100 fly (54.39), then finished third in the 100 free in 50.00.
If Westrick makes it out of prelims, she will compete in the evening finals which begin at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Jennings says he is excited to watch Westrick challenge the top swimmers in the country.
"She gets to compete against the best in the nation and that will be fun."