Basketball and swim teams host alumni events to kick off season


Illustration by Anika Vučićević

Dylan Mathias, Sports Reporter

Over Family Weekend, Oct. 25-27, some students could be found giving their family a tour of campus, attending a planetarium show or dining out — putting their parents’ wallets to good use. The swim and basketball teams, on the other hand, were wrapping up the preseason by competing against Whitman alumni who stood in their shoes anywhere from several years to decades ago.

On Saturday, Oct. 26, the Blues’ swim teams took to the water for their annual alumni swim meet. The annual meet has a history of bringing together current Blues swimmers with former Blues swimmers, who make sure to show their support for the team years after graduating.

Sophomore swimmer Michael Chang enjoys the competitive yet relaxed atmosphere the alumni meet offers.

I think most would describe the atmosphere of the meet as a very fun, light-hearted time, but there was also a certain amount of competitiveness because we were still racing,” Chang said. “It was all-around a super fun experience and I think everyone had a good time.”

What Chang enjoys most about the meet is that it demonstrates how connected and dedicated Whitman swimmers are, even those who haven’t raced for years.

“My biggest takeaway from this meet was that everyone stays connected, even after graduation,” Chang said. “The alumni meet shows that everyone is still somehow involved in each other’s lives and that they’re still invested in the team, taking time out of their lives to come back to Whitman.”

The alumni meet falls at the end of the preseason, which means the Blues’ skills are honed and they’re ready for the season to come. It also means that the alumni are at somewhat of a disadvantage, being many years out of practice. To help close the gap, the alumni have a few advantages, from the use of fins to relay racing.

Captain of the alumni team, Jamie Kennedy ’96, is glad the alumni have a bit of help.

“Advantages are vital,” Kennedy said. “Without time to train like while in college, we need a few options to compensate for the disparity.” 

Kennedy enjoys the laid-back and fun atmosphere of the meet, but says it puts into perspective the kind of work required of a competitive athlete.

It’s also a stark reminder of how much work and time commitment is required to be able to swim fast,” Kennedy said.

Apart from serving as a bridge between the preseason and regular season, the alumni meet is an important community event for the Whitman swim team.

“The alumni meet is a great opportunity to bring alumni perspectives and personalities to the current team and convey aspects of shared experiences,” Kennedy said.

The Blues women’s basketball team also had an annual matchup with alumni over Family Weekend. The alumni ended up falling to the current women’s team.

Sophomore forward Kaylie McCracken believes the alumni game is a fun way to end the preseason, but also serves as a good way for the team to get in a real-game scenario, especially for the seven first-years on the team.

We have a bunch of new teammates, and it was amazing to see how well they fit into our team dynamic in a real game setting,” McCracken said.

Despite the competitive aspect of the game, McCracken said the atmosphere was a nice change of pace from the usual intensity of the regular season.

“The alumni game was such a unique atmosphere for the student-athletes; we got to play against our very own women’s basketball family, some of whom played for a national championship in their time here,” McCracken said. “We took group photos together during warmups, and it was also really nice knowing that we were playing against people who want us to be the best we can be.”

Apart from the game itself, the alumni offered some words of wisdom and encouraged the team, hoping to see them make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.  

For the Blues swim and basketball teams, the weekend provided a way to wrap up the preseason and enter the regular season while having some competitive fun against those who came before them.