Whit trio heads to NCAA swim meet

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WALLA WALLA — The Whitman Missionaries are sending three swimmers to the NCAA Division III Championships this March 20-23 in Shenendoah, Texas.

The qualifiers were released last week.

Taking to the water for Whitman will be Claire Collins, a junior from Burlingame, Calif., who is the first female Whitman swimmer to post a qualifying time since the program joined the NCAA in the late 1990s.

Joining Collins on the men’s side is Galen Sollom-Brotherton, a junior from Dublin, Calif., and Karl Mering, a sophomore from Boise, who are making their second straight trip to the NCAA meet.

Collins qualified in the 100 Breaststroke with the 11th fastest time this season (1:04.45).

Each swimmer who qualifies is eligible to swim in two other races at the championships, so Collins will also participate in the 200 Individual Medley and the 200 Breast.

Sollom-Brotherton, the 2012 Northwest Conference Outstanding Male Swimmer, automatically qualified in two events: the 1,650 Freestyle with the 10th best national time (15:47.53), and the 500 Free where he clocked a 4:31.38 — 11th fastest this season. He will also swim in the 200 Free as his optional.

The 2013 NWC Outstanding Male Swimmer, Mering, automatically qualified for the 100 Butterfly with the third fastest time (48.59). In Shenendoah, Mering will also take to the blocks in the 200 Fly and the 100 Free.

Three Missionaries going the NCAA Championships for the first time in the program’s history is just another hallmark to an already memorable season.

In addition to Mering’s honor at the NWC Championships, head coach Jenn Blomme was named Male Coach of the Year — her sixth time to receive COY honors while at Whitman. The men won the regular season title with a 7-0 mark that included a dual-meet victory over Whitworth, ending the Pirates’ 90-dual-meet winning streak, and the team setting 20 new school records at the NWC meet in Federal Way, Wash.

A complete listing of the NCAA Championships field can be found here.

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