Swim Teams Finish Strong at Conference Meet

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Swim Teams Finish Strong at Conference Meet

Cole Anderson

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Two weekends ago, the Whitman men’s and women’s swim teams completed their seasons at the Northwest Conference Championships. Though the season could potentially continue for a select group of swimmers, this meet marked the end of another successful season for the team as a whole.

With six NWC meet records broken on the weekend and 15 Whitman records eclipsed, the results were as expected from an optimistic group of swimmers who went on to place second in the men’s meet and third in the women’s competition.

Though there are qualifying times that seed competitors in the meet, all swimmers who qualify, whether first seed or dead last, have a chance to take home the win.

“It’s awesome because all the swimmers in the conference are there, and everyone’s rested and ideally at the peak of their strength. It doesn’t matter at all how fast anyone has been in-season because the only swims that count for points are swum at night during A and B finals. As long as you have a lane, you have a shot,” said sophomore Cameo Hlebasko.

For the Whitman team, the entire weekend was one of success, replete with numerous podium finishes for both teams.

“Each day and session saw some incredible results … Overall there were countless lifetime bests and season bests,” said Hlebasko.

The Friday of the meet was a big day for Whitman, with both 200-yard freestyle relay teams breaking school records on their way to first-place finishes. On the women’s side, senior Claire Collins won both breaststrokes and first-year Shanley Miller won the 400 IM. For the men, sophomore Sam Starr won the 100-yard freestyle and junior Karl Mering won the 100 and 200 fly and 200 free, both convincingly, something that has been a trend for Mering this season.

The success Mering has had in his 2013-2014 season has not come as a surprise to the team, as he was selected to compete in nationals last season and will likely earn the same honor this year.

“Karl is currently ranked first in the nation in the 100 and 200 fly and sixth in the 200 free, and has a chance to become the first Whitman swimmer ever to become an NCAA national champion. He is definitely an athlete to watch at the upcoming national meet in Indianapolis, Ind. in March,” said Starr.

Aside from individual accomplishments, the Whitman relay teams, which have been successful in the conference all season, showed their prowess once more to their northwest opponents. Both men’s and women’s 200-medley relay teams took home wins for the Missionaries.

For many swimmers, the relays bring out the most in the team’s motto of “Swim Team Love,” or “STL” for short.

“Relays are my favorite part of conference. If you’re on a relay, you can be sure that the whole team is cheering behind your block. The STL that surrounds the relays makes them a true team effortand our relays swam crazy fast because of it,” said senior Ellen Banks.

For Banks and other seniors on the team, this meet marked the end of successful Whitman swimming careers, an end that saw positive results from the culmination of weeks, months and years of hard training and competing.

“I don’t think I could have asked for a better note to end on for my senior season. School and meet records were broken, individuals qualified for nationals, people earned best times and we had an absolute blast doing it,” said Banks.

The team totaled 11 first-place finishes on the weekend, and 10 Whitman swimmers achieved NCAA “B” cuts, which means those swimmers will wait to hear whether or not they will be selected to compete in nationals. Any swimmer selected to compete in nationals is allowed up to three individual events. Any relay teams selected can swim in any or all relays they choose, as well as any individual events in which they received a “B” cut. Mering is likely to be selected again, and other swimmers are hoping for invites again this year as well.

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