Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Triathlon triple threat raises funds for swimmers

The Whitman College Swim Team hosted its annual triathlon fundraiser last week. The event, organized by Head Swimming Coach Jennifer Blomme, attracted almost 40 participants who competed in the event either as individuals or as members of a team.

The team uses the revenue from the triathlon to cover various swim team expenses, especially the travel budget. Although the purpose of the event was to raise money, Blomme’s focus is on the participant experience.

“I don’t solely evaluate success based on how big the event is or how many dollars it raised … Every time we have a triathlon, there is someone doing it for the first time, or someone accomplishing a huge personal feat by participating. So by those standards, every time is a great success,” she said.

Junior Jeremy Nolan, who did the bicycle portion of the triathlon for his team, enjoyed the  experience.

“It was a lot of fun. I did it as part of a team with the Spanish House, where I’m an RA, and we had one of my housemates doing the running, I did the cycling and one of them did the swimming. It was an absolute blast,” said Nolan.

The triathlon is a swim team tradition that dates back to before 2000, the start of Blomme’s time at Whitman. It includes a 500-yard swim, a 10-mile bike ride and a 5-kilometer run. Blomme says she makes an effort to downplay competition.

“The fastest times of the day were posted by Matthew Coopersmith (1:05:58), Kara Faciszewski (1:03.12) and the team called “We’re the Millers” (0:55:04). But we very intentionally don’t announce winners at the end, but rather hold a raffle for all the participants. Our goal is to create an event that we’re all participating in together more than a race,” she said.

The swim team, which was extremely successful last season, has its first conference competition on Oct. 31. Blomme is extremely excited about both the men’s and women’s teams this year.

The women have seen some turnover from last year and are dealing with the loss of several seniors.

“The women lost four really key players to graduation last May, but the sophomores and juniors behind them are rising to the challenge in their absence. There is some great leadership on that team and we are excited to see what happens when that combines with some wonderful first-year talent,” said Blomme.

The men, meanwhile, are enjoying continuity from last year, which Blomme thinks will help the team.

“On the men’s side, we didn’t graduate anyone after last year’s amazing season, our most successful in program history. We have some awesome first-year men to add to that, so the sky is the limit for the men,” said Blomme.

Senior swimmer Karl Mering was the national champion in the 100-yard butterfly last year, the first in the history of Whitman swimming. Blomme says he has a chance to top himself this year.

“Can he do more? Absolutely. He is in great shape, training hard and very focused. But for him, the success will be as much about what his teammates and he are able to achieve together, as it will be about any one of his personal goals,” said Blomme.

While Whitman’s only other swimmer to make nationals last season, Claire Collins, graduated in the spring, Blomme says the team has several swimmers with the potential to take her place this year. 

There are a number of swimmers with huge potential. A talented relay group composed of Mering, juniors Robby Dorn and Sam Starr, and senior Nic Win just barely missed out on nationals last year. Sophomores Shanley Miller and Cole Weinstein were also both extremely close to making the national meet in the 400 IM. 

“Our major focus in regards to nationals will be getting more individuals there, of course, but also getting a relay selected [for] the meet. And we have a better shot at that than ever before,” said Blomme.

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