Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 9
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Mering Wants More Coming Off Historic Win

Photo by Anna Von Clemm

Only three weeks shy of becoming Whitman College’s first national champion in its Division-III history, junior two-time All-American swimmer Karl Mering already has his eye set on his next and final season.

“The off season is an extremely important time for swimmers. It’s not just about getting in the pool. It’s the dry workouts, too, taking the time to get stronger,” said senior teammate and fellow All-American swimmer Claire Collins.

Collins witnessed Mering’s record-breaking 100-yard butterfly in Indianapolis, for she too was competing at nationals. Collins finished her career with two 11th place national finishes, both in breaststroke.

Where most athletes take a month to reflect and recuperate from a long season of hard work, Mering’s immediate drive to improve his strength in the off-season is not surprising to his teammates.

“Karl is by far one of the hardest working and dedicated teammates I have ever had,” said senior Galen Sollom-Brotherton, former teammate and 2013 All-American who will start as an assistant swim coach for the team next season.

Leading the nation in the 100-yard fly for nearly all season, Mering knew his potential for being the front-runner in this event.

“I think in swimming the goal is first and foremost to improve on what you’ve done in the past. I have had it as my big goal since last season, when I finished eighth at nationals, to finish first [this season],” he said.

Despite losing his goggles earlier in the morning preliminaries, and seeding sixth, Mering was in a good place come the finals.

“I was feeling pretty relaxed and confident. I knew that I had a good race in me. I didn’t know if I was going to execute perfectly, but I felt like I had it,” said Mering.

Photo by Anna Von Clemm

Although the race wasn’t over until Mering touched the wall at 47.91 seconds, Collins, watching impatiently, was confident that her teammate would take home the title after just a few strokes.

“I have been training with [Karl] for so long, I know his stroke count and what he needed to win. Once he hit the wall on the first lap, I knew he had it. Even though the race was close the whole way, I was sure he was going to win just after a few seconds,” said Collins.

It was a mix of emotions as Mering read his name on the reader board.

“I was definitely a little surprised, relieved and super excited all at the same time,” said Mering.

Mering’s 47.91 time was just .01 seconds faster than the second place finisher, and Sollom-Brotherton credited that to the strong fundamentals that Mering as well as Whitman’s coaching staff emphasizes.

“At such a high level, working hard in practice isn’t always enough. Karl works on his fundamentals. He won by .01 and that was in his finish.  He put his head down and knew how to finish,” said Sollom-Brotherton.

The butterfly in particular is a race that requires attention to detail and a lot of focus in order to get the techniques just right.

“It’s about finding the flow and rhythm of the stroke and spacing of the wall, being in touch with those kinds of things dictates really minor things in a race, like taking six kicks off a wall versus seven,” said Mering.

Making Whitman College history with record breaking times, becoming the school’s first D-III national champion and setting a Northwest Conference record is just the beginning for Mering.

“I have no doubt that he will return to nationals next year for individual events. We are all excited for the possibility of a real national presence,” said Sollom-Brotherton.

Mering won’t settle for one national championship, and he continues to set impressive goals for himself.

“I know that I still have some big room for improvements and would really like to break the national records in the 100- and 200-butterfly,” said Mering.

Collins echoes the possibility for a three-peat at nationals.

“He could come back and win it again. It is within reach for him, and I am beyond excited to see what he does in his senior year,” said Collins. “I think he still has some surprises left for Division III.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Whitman Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *