by Alan Babbitt
Hope College swimmer Meg Peel heads to the NCAA Division III Championships familiar with the setting and emotions that encompass the national stage.
The sophomore from Spring Lake, Michigan (Spring Lake HS) returns to nationals this week in Greensboro, N.C., after qualifying last season.
Peel can use her 2018 trip to nationals as a springboard to success, co-head coach Jake Taber said.
"We are hoping that is an advantage for her," Taber said. "I am looking forward to her creating her own environment and owning her swims and competing the way she is capable. If she's able to do that, good things will happen for her and I think we will be back watching her race at night!"
Peel has qualified to swim at nationals in the 50-yard freestyle on Wednesday, the 100 backstroke on Friday and the 200 backstroke on Saturday. Each day, preliminaries are 10 a.m., while finals start at 6 p.m.
Peel will be joined at nationals by men's diver Brian Simonich. He competes on Thursday in 1-meter diving and Saturday in 3-meter diving.
In 2018, Peel finished 23rd in the 200 backstroke at nationals and 29th in the 100 backstroke. She also swam on the 24th-place 400 medley relay.
Peel is seeded in the top 12 in both backstroke events.
The 2019 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Most Valuable Women's Swimmer ranks sixth in the 200 backstroke with a season-best time of 2 minutes, 00.96 seconds and 12th in the 100 backstroke with a season-best effort of 56.23 seconds.
"To score, Meg will have to swim a little faster than her seed times," co-head coach John Patnott said. "Her goal is to final, especially in the 200 back. She also has a good attitude going into the meet, which will help her perform well."