Sixteen records fall at swim championships

Tyler Hurlburt

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Head swim coach Jenn Blomme understandably lost count of the number of broken school records after the first night of the three-day Northwest Conference Championships at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, Ore. By the end of the meet, 16 new records had been set by the Missionary swimmers.

Coaches Jamie Kennedy '96, Robert Street '07, Jenn Blomme and Anthony Russo urge on a Whitman swimmer from the bulkhead. Teammates show their support with flags and face paint as they cheer during a race. Photos contributed by Kayla Joan.

Assistant swim coach Anthony Russo was extremely proud of the performance of his swimmers.

“To break that many school records is an amazing feat,” Russo said. “The team has worked hard all season and to see the benefits of their hard work is inspiring.”

The upheaval of the old record board was lead by sophomore Katie Chapman, who broke the school records in the 100 butterfly and the 200 I.M., while also contributing to four relays that broke records. Chapman surpassed these records en route to winning three individual events, the 100 and 200 butterflies and the 200 I.M., earning the honor of Women’s Outstanding Swimmer of the Meet.

Chapman herself could barely even believe that the meet turned out the way it did.

“It feels like a dream and I am just waiting to wake up,” Chapman said. “It couldn’t have happened on any other team.”

The Whitman swim teams are known in the conference for having the most spirit, which can greatly help swimmers stay motivated throughout the three-day marathon of a meet.

At the meet, Missionary swimmers never swam without a group of their teammates at the other end of the pool cheering until their voices were beyond hoarse. The Whitman swimmers also painted their faces and bodies, waved flags, cheered the “freshest” cheers and danced like fools in order to keep the energy up thoughout the meet.

The other swimmers who broke individual records were sophomores Kevin Dyer (500, 1000 and 1650 freestyle); Paul Chang (100 and 200 breaststroke); first-years Claire Collins (100 and 200 breaststroke) and Keller Hawkins (100 backstroke). The women’s team collectively rewrote Whitman swimming history breaking all five relay records, while the Missionary men set a new record in the 200 freestyle relay.

Senior Brian Wakefield was amazed to see record after record fall.

“It was unbelievable. We’ve been looking at these records all year and it’s eye-popping to see them fall like this,” Wakefield said. “It tells you something about the group of swimmers we have to break 16 records.”

After all of these records came tumbling down, the Whitman swim teams found themselves in third place for the men and fourth place for the women.

The men ended the meet with 529.5 points behind only Whitworth University and University of Puget Sound, who had 923.5 and 586.5 points, respectively. The next closest team was over 200 points below.

The women finished the meet in an all-too-familiar position: trailing Lewis & Clark College by a single point in the race for third place for the second straight year. Whitworth and Puget Sound took first and second on the women’s side with 817 and 679 points respectively, while Lewis & Clark came out on top of the Missionaries with a 449-448 advantage.

Despite the repeat of excruciatingly close finishes for the women, the swimmers never let the results damper their mood, cheering the loudest when Blomme won co-women’s coach of the year along with Lewis & Clark’s Chris Fantz and taking part in a post-meet dance party on the pool deck with swimmers from Whitworth.

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