FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — After two full days of competition, the Whitman College swimmers went after their fifth and final session at the Husky Invitational Sunday morning, with the team heading home having made three new school records and as many Nationals cuts, and taken the lead in the Northwest Conference in many individual events at the King Country Aquatic Center over the weekend.
In Sunday’s first event, Nic Win posted a 1:57.35 in the 200-yard backstroke for a season-best and second-fastest time by any swimmer in the NWC this season.
Kincaid Hoffman also went a season-best time of 2:03.2 in the same event.
Next up, Tai Hallstein barely missed nabbing the 100 freestyle school record — her time of 53.44 was just one-tenth of a second off the mark.
Hallstein’s swims over the weekend have launched her up to the top of the NWC for both the 100 and 50 freestyle events.
“There was great team energy at the meet,” said Whitman head coach Jenn Blomme. “Because it is composed mostly of club swim teams, it’s very individually focused. But our team did an awesome job of making every swim a team event. If you looked behind a lane of a Whitman swimmer in finals there were usually 20-30 people cheering like crazy.”
The meet posed certain challenges for Whitman swimmers, but also provided them a valuable opportunity to race in a championship setting during the regular season.
“This weekend falls during a pretty intense time for us academically, and we often have mixed feelings going into it,” said Blomme. “But it’s a really fast meet at a fast pool. And since we’ll be competing in the same pool for our conference championships in February, this weekend was a great one to prepare for what our conference championships will be like.”
While many of the athletes swam times that would have qualified them for Sunday night’s finals, the team had decided to cut the weekend a little short.
“In order to minimize the impact on our swimmers academically, we left as late as we could on Thursday so we missed very little class. Then we scratched all of our events Sunday night. It meant we didn’t score points out of our individual events, but our swimmers did a great job going after it this morning,” said Blomme.
Whitman’s Sam Starr held the top time in the NWC this season for the 100 yard freestyle going into the meet, and Sunday morning he swam a faster season-best of 47.31; Loic McGiverin-Odeide and Robby Dorn finished in 50.17 and 54.12.
Claire Collins smashed her previous season-best time in the 200 breaststroke, swimming to a 2:25.54 to nab the top spot in the NWC standings.
Karl Mering finished out the meet with explosive style, showing up again in the butterfly to post another Whitman and NWC record in the 200-yard distance. His time of 1:49.15, was 3.78 seconds faster than any of his 48 scoring competitors. Mering’s time also qualifies him with a provisional ‘B’ cut for NCAA Nationals in March.
“Karl’s 200 fly was outstanding! He is not only getting stronger each season, but his race strategy is just getting more and more sophisticated,” said Blomme.
“The performances this weekend were outstanding. Swimmers are racing with a lot of confidence,” said Blomme. “We need to have a few good weeks of really focused training going into our training trip, but that’s just another reason this meet is so important to us – it totally elevates the focus at practice over the next couple of weeks going into the holidays.”
The team heads back to Whitman for two weeks of swimming together before rejoining in January for its annual training trip in Southern California. Their next meets will be at home on Jan. 17-18 against Pacific Lutheran University and the University of Puget Sound. All three teams currently have undefeated NWC records.