Varsity swimmers set records at NWC Championships

Lennae Starr, Staff Reporter

Continuing the tradition of excellence, the Whitman men’s and women’s swim teams made quite the splash at the Northwest Conference (NWC) championships.

On Feb. 13-16 in Federal Way, Washington, the Blues competed against eight other schools for the title of champion in the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center, a site that has hosted Olympic trials and some of the most prominent swimming competitions in the world.

Following in the wake of the great swimmers who have swum those lanes, Whitman varsity swimming gave it their all to take home the gold.

For sophomore Annika Hobson on the women’s team, the conference finals brought new favorite memories of the season.

In the women’s 500 free[style] we placed 3rd-4th-5th-6th. It was such a special memory standing on the podium with three of my distance training teammates,” Hobson said. In addition to the 500-yard freestyle, Hobson also raced in the 200-yard and 1,650-yard freestyles.

On the men’s team, sophomore Sam Bert competed in the 100-yard and 200-yard backstroke, and the 200-yard individual medley (IM). Despite performing well, dropping six seconds in one race and three seconds in another, the most rewarding experience for him was seeing his teammates flourish. 

“My favorite memory of the season was probably watching Tanner Filion win conference in the 100 backstroke,” Bert said. “He worked super hard all year and has been an excellent teammate from day one. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who deserved to win more than him.”

Others, like senior Melia Matthews, ended their collegiate swim careers with new personal records. Matthews raced in the 50-yard, 100-yard and 200-yard freestyle, as well as the 200-yard relay.

“I am very happy with how I did this conference. I made top eight in an event for the first time, my relay got first place, and I scored in another event as well. I got some best times and gave it my all,” Matthews said. 

For the men’s team, the competition this year was especially tough.

“All of the men’s events have been way faster this year than they were last year,” Bert said. “The guys who got 1st and 2nd in the 400 IM last year ended up 8th and 7th respectively.”

Despite a more competitive environment, the men’s team was prepared for the challenge. Most notably, first-year Tanner Filion took first place in the 100-yard backstroke and second place in the 200-yard freestyle.

After a total of 36 events, the conference concluded on Sunday, Feb. 16. For the Blues, the women’s team came out on top, taking first place in the NWC championships, with 718 total points. The men’s team also performed impressively, coming in third place with 388 points. 

“[Our coach] always prepares us so well that we are confident going into our races,” Hobson said. “I am always so excited to see what our team can do.”