by Alan Babbitt
Hope College's Meg Peel will swim for a national championship tonight in the 200-yard backstroke.
The sophomore from Spring Lake, Michigan (Spring Lake HS) qualified for the No. 2 seed out of preliminaries after clocking a school-record time of 1 minute, 59.56 seconds.
Tonight's finals in Greensboro, N.C., begin at 6 p.m. The 200 backstroke follows the 100-yard freestyle.
Peel trailed only top-seeded Crile Hart of Kenyon College (Ohio) during preliminaries. Hart finished in 1:58.18.
Peel is the first Flying Dutch swimmer to go under two minutes in the 200 backstroke.
Her previous best was 2:00.56 at February's MIAA Championships.
Co-head coach John Patnott said the best might be yet to come for Peel.
"Like her swim yesterday morning (in the 100 backstroke), we took video and review today's," Patnott said. "We all agree that there a few technical issues that she can correct and should be a little faster tonight. She was aware of a few of them before watching the video."