SHENANDOAH, Texas — Day one of the Division III swimming national championships at the Conroe Natatorium saw Whitman junior Galen Sollom-Brotherton post the highest finish at nationals for a Missionary swimmer in program history when he finished second in the 500 freestyle, setting a new school record with a time of 4:27.47 — more than a second-and-a-half faster than his morning preliminary time.
“All of us here — team, coaches, and parents — are elated!” said Whitman coach Jenn Blomme of Sollom-Brotherton’s performance. “If you were to look up ‘How to close a race’ in the dictionary, it should say, ‘See Galen’s final length of the 500 at the NCAA’s.’ He showed some powerful determination at the end of a hard race against the fastest swimmers in the country. It was just awesome!”
The victory gives the Whitman men 17 points in the overall scoring and earns Sollom-Brotherton All-American honors — which he also earned at last year’s meet. Allen Weik of Denison won the race, touching the wall at 4:23.99.
To qualify for the finals Sollom-Brotherton finished sixth in the morning preliminaries with a new school record of 4:29.08 that would only last one race. Both times were faster than Sollom-Brotherton’s NCAA Championships mark of last year (4:30.38), when he finished 10th overall.
Sollom-Brotherton’s winning time also beat his personal best in the 500 free of 4:28.66, which he set as junior in high school.
Day one also say Whitman’s Claire Collins swim in the 200 individual medley, where she clocked in at 2:11.41 in the prelims, good for 38th. Collins qualified for the championships in the 100 breaststroke, which she will swim Friday morning.
The third member of the Whitman contingent, Karl Mering, did not swim Wednesday. He will get his first crack at the pool today in the 100 butterfly, a race in which he recorded the third fastest time this season (48.59), setting a new school, conference and Northwest Conference Championships record.
Mering’s mark was .50 behind the fastest 100 fly this season set by Amherst’s Samuel Stewart, who will also be competing today.