A local product from Monson, Mass., Pennington qualified for the evening's final session after posting the second-fastest time of prelims, a 23.18. The sophomore had previously been seeded first in the event after swimming a 23.09 at the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championships. For her efforts at the championships, which included three individual titles, Pennington was named the NEWMAC Swimmer of the Year for the second-straight season.
Swimming in lane three, Pennington used a tremendous start to re-establish her school record with a time of 23.00 seconds, out-touching Christie Raliegh of Rowan, who finished in 23.09. Emory's Claire Pavlak swam the fastest time in prelims, a 22.86, only to finish third with a 23.10 in the finals.
In his 23rd season as the head women's and men's swimming coach, this is coach John Taffe's first national champion.
"I'm so proud of Kellie, this really is a product of her hard work and competitive nature," said Taffe. "She is a tough, even-keeled, and humble competitor who didn't let all the distractions out here get to her. She was determined from a year ago and knew that she could compete on this level."