Whitman swimmer breaks records at Husky Invitational

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - Make it two for two for Whitman College swimmer Karl Mering in his weekend quest to rewrite parts of the school record book at the 63rd annual Husky Invitational Swim Meet in Federal Way, Wash.

Mering, a freshman, dispatched Whitman's "oldest" school record in this morning's preliminaries of the 100-yard butterfly. He was clocked in 50.23, clipping more than a second of the record (51.33) set in 1992 by Gary Ames.

Mering's new record also ranks as the best time posted by a Northwest Conference swimmer this season, and it meets the provisional qualifying time for the 2012 NCAA Division III national championships.

Mering heads to this evening's championships finals of the 100 fly with the seventh-best time from this morning's preliminaries, which attracted a total of 112 competitors.

Swimmers from more than two dozen universities, colleges and club teams are at the invitational, which continues through Sunday.

Mering, one of about 15 Whitman swimmers at the invitational, set a new school in the preliminaries of the 50-yard freestyle on Friday. His time in that race also met the provisional qualifying standard for the NCAA DIII national championships.

In other preliminaries this morning, Mering just missed advancing to the evening finals in the 100-yard backstroke, but Whitman juniors Genay Pilarowski and Katie Chapman both made the cut in their events.

Swimmers with the top 32 times in the preliminaries advanced in the men's 100-yard backstroke. Mering swam his race in 54.42, which was the 36th best time among 93 entries.

While Mering's time wasn't quite fast enough for tonight's talent-laden round of final heats, it is the fourth-best time ever clocked by a Whitman swimmer and just seven-tenths of a second off a school record set in 1995.

Pilarowski swam a 1:08.50 in the women's 100-yard breaststroke, advancing to the evening finals with the 26th best time among 95 swimmers. Her prelim time was seven-tenths of a second off her career-best effort and less than two seconds off the school record.

Chapman advanced in the 100-yard butterfly with the morning's 30th-best time -- 58.84 -- among 115 competitors. Her time was 1.4 seconds off her school record.

Three of Chapman's teammates also swam in the 100 fly prelims. Sophomore Melani Notari was 92nd in 1:03.62, junior Helen Jenne was 97th in 1:04.13, and sophomore Keller Hawkins was 111th in 1:06.21.

Sophomore Claire Collins joined Pilarowski in the 100 breast prelims, placing 51st in 1:11.20.

Hawkins also swam this morning in the 100-yard backstroke, clocking a 1:03.18 to place 61st. Junior teammate Charlotte Graham was 83rd in 1:06.63.

Earlier in the morning, Graham finished 123rd (2:05.58) in a huge field of 166 swimmers in the 200-yard freestyle.

Ashley Jay, one of Whitman's first-year swimmers, was 90th in the 200 free in 2:02.73. Jay also placed 74th in the 400-yard individual medley in 5:04.49.

Junior Paul Chang came close to advancing (top 32) in the men's 100-yard backstroke. He posted the 39th best time at 1:01.76.

Senior Matt Liedtke finished 47th in the prelims of 100-yard butterfly. His time was 54.73, about four-tenths of a second off his career-best mark.

Freshman Kevin O'Leary swam the prelims in two events, placing 55th (56.12) in the 100-yard backstroke and 90th (1:50.94) in the 200-yard freestyle.

Freshman Nic Win also swam in the 100 back, placing 62nd in 56.77.

Saturday's finals started at 6 p.m. at the King Co. Aquatic Center in Federal Way.

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