By Eric Shultz
For The Daily Item
Surrounded by a small group of friends for emotional support, Devin Lessard braced herself for the news.
Lessard had been in this situation before. She knew how the process worked, when she would find out and what her odds were.
This time was different from every other instance, though -- on Feb. 27, Lessard found out she finally had been selected to compete in the 200-yard butterfly at the Division III NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships. It is the first time she will compete at the event, and it marks only the second time Susquehanna's women's program is sending a swimmer to the meet.
"I've had to deal with this process like every year I've been in college. I kind of knew the process of what was happening, and I'd have to wait and all that," Lessard said.
"I was just kind of like speechless and in shock," she said. "I was confident about going, but it was just having that actual invite. So it kind of took me a little bit to finally settle in, and then when I was getting all the congratulations and all of that overwhelming support, that's when it hit me emotionally."
A four-year journey
Qualifying for the national meet — which will be held from March 20-23 in Shenandoah, Texas — ended a four-year attempt to compete there.
As a freshman, Lessard was a provisional qualifier when Christie Savard became the first Crusader to make nationals, as a junior during the 2009-10 season. The following two years also brought Lessard close to the national meet, but she finished each season on the outside looking in.
Lessard attributed this season's different outcome to significantly improved times.
"This year I swam two-and-a-half seconds faster than I ever have...and the time that I swam [a 2:04.35 at the Ithaca Invitational on Feb. 16], that time has always gone to nationals, so that's why I was pretty confident that I would get to go."