Swim team heads to conference meet with high hopes

Derek Thurber

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Swim team heads to conference meet with high hopes | Photo by AxelrodRepresenting Whitman College, the men’s and women’s swim teams head off to the end-of-season, three-day conference meet this weekend with high hopes.

“Everyone on the team is swimming very strong,” Assistant Coach James Kennedy said. “We are very excited for the prospects at the conference meet.”

The women’s swim team won four of their duel meets and lost three inside the Northwest Division III conference during the regular season. The men’s team won three of their conference dual meets and lost four.

“We had a very good season both by the times the swum by the swimmers and by the level of competition,” Kennedy said.

The highlight of the season, according to Kennedy, was at the Northwest Invitational meet held on the first weekend in December. Both teams placed second at the invitational. The men’s team also barely beat the Linfield swim team at the invitational when they had lost to them earlier in the year.

Not all of the meets have gone as well as desired, with four losses on the men’s side and three on the women’s side.

“This year has been kind of a roller coaster year,” senior Clint Collier said. “We have had some really great meets and some really bad ones.”

The season has also been rough for some of the individual members of the team. Some of the swimmers, who will not be named at the request of the swim team, have had to end their season short. This includes the head coach Jennifer Bloome, who had complications with her pregnancy and so is spending spring in bed rest.

The three assistant coaches, James Kennedy; Kathrine Curles, a Whitman alum and Ned Morris, have been running the practices and training the team in Bloome’s absence.

Bloome has remained very close to the developments of the swim team while at home. The meets are recorded for her to watch and she is still giving the assistant coaches the workout schedules for the day’s practice.

“She is really keeping on top of everything that is happening,” Kennedy said.

With the season behind them, the swimmers are now preparing for the conference meet, at which most of them will swim the best of the season. The coaches train the entire season for this event.

The conference meet is a three-day event held near Seattle and includes all seven colleges in the region. The mornings of each day are the preliminary rounds for that day’s events. If a swimmer ranks in the top 16 swimmers in the preliminary rounds, that swimmer must return in the evening to swim in either the conciliation if ranked between eighth and 16th in the prelims or the finals if ranked in the top seven in the prelims.

The Whitman team is not expected to rank among the top two on either the men’s or the women’s side but are in contention for the third and fourth place rankings.

“Both the men’s and women’s [teams] should be able to finish in the top three or four,” Collier said.

If individual swimmers complete their race in a certain amount of time they could qualify to go to the national meet later in the spring. Some of the Whitman swimmers are close to qualifying, Kennedy said, and they might have a chance of making the national qualifying time at the conference meet.

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