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Darton’s Macht wins NJCAA national title in 400 IM

Darton freshman Anna Macht won the national championship in Friday’s 400 IM, giving the Lady Cavs their first national title since 2008.

Darton freshman Anna Macht won the national championship in Friday’s 400 IM, giving the Lady Cavs their first national title since 2008.

FT. PIERCE, Fla. — Darton’s Anna Macht was as good as advertised.

Macht, who was the No.1 ranked junior college women’s swimmer in the nation in the 400-yard individual medley, captured the national title on Friday at the NJCAA swimming and diving championships at Indian River State College.

Macht, a freshman from Germany, took first place in the 400-IM with a time of 4:27.61 as the crowd erupted with her victory, and all the Darton swimmers celebrated as Macht became the first female swimmer to win a national swimming title at Darton since 2008.

Afterward, Macht called her mother back in Germany to share the news.

She’s hoping for another long-distance call today, because Macht has a chance to win the 100-yard freestyle title. She is ranked second in the nation.

Being ranked first in the 400-IM didn’t faze Macht — or even put pressure on her.

“I don’t think it put any pressure on her,’’ Darton swimming coach Molly Gilbert said. “I honestly think it helped her. Knowing she was seeded first, it boosted her confidence.”

It was also the first time Gilbert, who has been at Darton for five years, including three as the head swimming coach, coached a national champion.

Macht won the title with the fastest time of her life, beating her old personal record by four seconds, and had the benefit of the crowd.

“When a swimmer beats Indian River, everyone in the crowd who is not from Indian River is cheering for that person,’’ Gilbert said. “And all of our swimmers were cheering for her. When she won, everyone celebrated and we all hugged her.’’

Darton had several swimmers do well in the national championships.

Darton’s Kenzie Bentz (59.12) and Karina Malmquist (59.15) finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in the women’s 100-yard butterfly finals, and Emily Mitchell finished fifth in the women’s 100-yard breaststroke final, finishing the race in 1:00.05.

On the men’s side, T.J. Bland finished third in the men’s 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 55.82. Bland, Deniss Jariga, Justin Akins and Ben Smith took fourth-place in the men’s 200-yard medley final in 1:34.46. Jariga also finished fourth in the men’s 100-yard backstroke finals with a time of 51.38. Cody Spradlin scored a 379.65 to finish fourth in men’s 3-meter diving.

Darton’s men are in fourth place and the women are in fifth place as the meet heads into its final day today, but that could change. Jariga has a chance to win a men’s title in the 200-yard backstroke, and of course Macht could take home another title.

“It has been a real good meet,’’ Gilbert said. “I think we could have a lot of success (today). A lot can happen in one day.’’