Whitman swimmers finish strong at championships

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SHENANDOAH, Texas ­— The fourth and final day of the NCAA Division III Swimming Championships on Saturday saw the Whitman team wrap up the program’s most impressive showing ever at nationals, highlighted by a seventh-place performance by Galen Sollom-Brotherton in the 1,650 freestyle.

In the four days of competition at the Conroe ISD Natatorium, the trio of Claire Collins, Karl Mering and Sollom-Brotherton set many new marks, including the highest finish for a Whitman men’s team at the NCAA’s (17th), and the first-ever points scored by a Whitman woman when Collins placed 12th in the 100 breaststroke, earning five points. The men garnered 56.

This was also the first time that multiple Missionaries made the championship finals and took home All-American honors — Mering in the 200 and 100 butterfly, in which he placed third and eighth respectively; and Sollom-Brotherton, who took second in the 500 freestyle and swam the seventh fastest time in the 1,650 free.

In addition, Collins’ finish in the breaststroke earned her the first All-American accolade for the Whitman women’s program as she received honorable mention.

“We could not be more proud of the work our team did this week, this year,” Whitman coach Jenn Blomme said. “We are traveling home with three All-Americans and the highest finish ever. The men even bested their 20th place ranking!”

On Saturday’s final day, Sollom-Brotherton’s time in the 1,650 of 15:34.00 was a personal best and a new school record, along with his split at the 1,000 mark also setting a new record.

“Galen just had the race of his life!” Blomme said.

Earlier in the 500 free finals, Sollom-Brotherton also smashed not only the school mark but also his personal best, dating back to his junior year in high school, when he touched the wall in 4:27.47. The second-place performance is the highest finish at the NCAA meet in program history.

Mering’s effort in the 200 fly (1:47.50) was also explosive.

Not only was it the second highest finish in program history at nationals, but it shattered the school mark, which he had previously set, and also the Northwest Conference mark.

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