Swimming kicks off season with bigger turnout for men’s team

Andy Jobanek

Coming off of a year when both the men and women swim teams finished in the top half of the Northwest Conference, the season started last weekend with a pair of NWC meets after six weeks of practices. The big news coming into the year is the surge in the men’s team where the roster has swelled from 11 swimmers last year to 19 this year.David Lee competes in the Northwest Conference Sprint Pentathlon last Saturday night in Whitman

“It’ll be the biggest team we’ve had in quite a long time at Whitman,” said Head Coach Jennifer Blomme, who enters her eighth year at the helm of the Whitman Swimming program. “We’re looking forward to seeing what this men’s team can do now that we have the depth to back up the talent.”

In a conference that has drastically increased the parity from previous years, depth will play a huge role in dual meets where more swimmers equates to more points earned that the team wasn’t getting in previous years. Instead of having only a few swimmers earning points at the top, the men’s team will show their depth with more players filling out the standings.

“A lot of depth contributes a lot to whether or not you win a meet. It’s not necessarily how fast your fastest swimmer is, it’s got a lot more to do with the depth of your team,” said senior women’s co-captain Erin Pettersen.

Some of the reasons for this growth that senior men’s co-captain Clint Collier listed were the recent success of both teams that has steadily increased from his first year, as well as the shiny new Harvey Pool in the Baker Ferguson Fitness Center and the high-energy support that both teams give each other during meets.

“I think the atmosphere of the team is something a lot of prospective swimmers get to experience and something they really like,” said Collier.

That continued last weekend at the NWC Sprint Pentathlon and NWC Relay Meet where the Whitman Swimmers were easily the loudest group of any of the participating conference teams.

“I would say something that identifies us and is really important to us is the concept of team in such an individual sport. It’s sometimes really easy to get lost in your own swimming and feel disconnected from what’s going on around you,” said Blomme.

This sort of team philosophy has led to a closely-knit group of swimmers who give everything they have in races. There is little division between the men and women teams other than the distinctions that aren’t easy to change. Both Collier and Pettersen talked about the team without referencing the men’s side or women’s side.

Pettersen also makes the claim that everybody at Whitman has a friend on the swim team because of the active participation each member has in campus life. Some of these activities include musical groups like orchestra, wind ensemble and chorale, residence life and even other sports such as the cycling team. The great thing about a swim meet, as Blomme pointed out, is that fans can come and go between races to see their favorite Whitties.