Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 9
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Swimmers dive into 2010 season

Credit: Jacobson
Credit: Jacobson

As the conference season steadily approaches, both the Whitman men’s and women’s swimming teams look to build on their past successes. This upcoming weekend represents the first chance for each team to test itself against conference opponents as the Missionaries host Linfield College and Pacific University on Friday, Nov. 6, and Saturday, Nov. 7, respectively.

For the men’s team, repeating last season’s success will be a difficult undertaking after losing two key members from last year’s team, which finished third in the Northwest Conference (NWC) Championships: its highest finish since 1987: and obliterated numerous school records along the way.

“We lost some really key players that had brought us to that level,” said Head Coach Jenn Blomme.

The void created by the departure of ’09 swimming alumni Noel Sollom-Brotherton and Ysbrand Nusse: two valuable contributors to last season’s record setting team: will not be easy to fill. However, Blomme’s expectations remain high.

Although the coach refrained from making any definite predictions on the grounds that many of the variables, such as conference strength, that will determine the team’s success remain unknown, she is very pleased with the personnel at her disposal.

“We’ve still got some real strong folks on the men’s team,” said Blomme.

Senior Eric Molnar, junior Jamie Nusse (Ysbrand’s brother) and sophomores Chris Bendix and Mitchell Lee highlight a talented group of returning swimmers while Kevin Dyer leads a strong group of first-year swimmers. ¬† Molnar, Nusse, Bendix and Lee have each broken school records in the past and Blomme believes that Dyer has the potential to do the same, perhaps as early as this year. If Dyer’s performance in the team’s first meet: a non-conference affair versus the College of Idaho: is any indication of his future with the team, the men’s team should be able to continue to build upon the winning tradition that it has established in recent years.

The women’s team’s conference campaign may very well result in a breakthrough season: much like the one the men enjoyed last year. Although the women managed a respectable fourth-place finish in last season’s NWC Championships, Blomme envisions much greater things for the women Missionaries this season.

“This year’s women’s team will probably be the strongest I’ve seen at Whitman in a long time,” said Blomme.

Headliners for the women’s team include junior Lauren Flynn, an established school record holder and team captain who will be joined by newcomer first-years Katie Chapman and ¬†Charlotte Graham, respective winners of the 100-yard butterfly and the 100-yard freestyle in Whitman’s opening dual meet with the College of Idaho. However, the talent does not end there by any means and, consequently, this season holds immense promise.

Blomme assessed the tantalizing combination of youth, experience and depth of women’s team.

“We should see some great performances on the women’s side,” she said.

On both the men’s and women’s sides, the tangible goal is to challenge Northwest Conference powerhouses Whitworth College and the University of Puget Sound (UPS) for conference supremacy.

Blomme discussed the conference pecking order and whether it will undergo transformation this season.

“We’d like to knock on that door and I think we’ve certainly got the talent to be at the top of the conference . . . that’s really exciting,” she said.

Despite the immense potential for improvement, the coach suggested that trying to project how the conference will play out at this early juncture is somewhat futile as it is difficult to interpret early results which may be affected by injuries and illness, which have plagued many Northwest Conference teams, including Whitman and UPS, already this season.

As a result Blomme is not taking either of the Missionaries’ first two conference meets with conference underdogs Pacific and Linfield lightly.

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