Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Class of 2014

This Sunday, we will watch our four seniors graduate.  No class of women has ever achieved as many swimming milestones as these four.  The class of 2014 is responsible for 4 individual Whitman records and one or more of them was a member of each of the five Whitman record relay teams.  On top of that, Claire Collins became the first NCAA All-America award winner for our women's team, and Melanie, Claire, and Keller were all members of the NCAA "B" standard qualifying 200 medley relay team.  Claire also holds an NWC all-time record in the 100 breaststroke.  All-in-all, our four senior women are also responsible for 11 Whitman all-time top-10 times.
On top of their landmark achievements in the water, we will miss them for their leadership and incredible ability to inspire their teammates--all while also receiving accolades for their academic and extracurricular endeavors.  The guidance, work-ethic, poise, and collaborative spirit that these fine women brought to Whitman and our team elevated each of us.  Their legacy will live on for years to come!

Now, for a little bit about each of our soon-to-be graduates...

Ellen and Claire
Ellen Banks, from Pasadena, California, is majoring in Anthropology.  This summer, she is going to return home to Pasadena to coach rec-league swimming before moving to New York City where she will be teaching math at Connelly Middle school, an all-girls, inner-city school on Manhattan's Lower East Side, for two years.

Claire Collins, from Burlingame, California, is majoring in English.  Claire is pursuing her Masters in Education through the University of Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education.  She will spend her next two summers in South Bend, Indiana, taking classes at Notre Dame, and will be living and working in Southern California during the school year, where she will be a middle school language-arts teacher at St. Michael's School in Los Angeles.  She will graduate from her program in two years and then plans to pursue a career in education.
Keller at NWC Champs, 2014

Keller Hawkins, from Nashville, Tennessee, is majoring in Religion.  Keller is moving back to Nashville and will spend her summer working for Project Transformation Tennessee, a non-profit which she has been involved with for many years.  In August, Keller starts working towards her Masters of Divinity at Vanderbilt Divinity School.  She plans to focus her studies on the intersection of gender, sexuality, and religion.  She hopes to become an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church.
Melanie and Jenn 

Melanie Notari, from Bellevue, Washington, is majoring in Politics.  Mel will be spending the summer here in Walla Walla, working and preparing for the LSAT.  She hopes to pursue a career in law and will be taking the next year to work, travel, and apply for Law School.

Keller, Claire, Ellen, and Mel after NWC Championships in 2011

Congratulations, Class of 2014!  We are extremely proud of each of you!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Triathlon and Awards Banquet

Pre-race meeting at the Triathlon
Last weekend, we hosted our annual Spring Triathlon, which consists of a 500 yard swim, 10 mile bike ride, and a 5k run.  The event was a great success!  With nice weather and a good turnout, it was a fun event for us and the community.  Several of our swimmers competed individually and as part of a team.  The triathlon and the awards banquet mark the end of our team-wide events for the year.
Jr., Dane Kawamoto finishing the race!
New records!
Tuesday night was the annual Swimming and Varsity Athletics award banquet.  As always, it was a great celebration not just of our achievements in the pool this season, but it was an opportunity to come together as a group again before the end of the year.
Elise and Shanley, 400 IM record holders
Our evening started with signing broken records.  With the new records up, the old ones came down and were signed by those who are now on the record board.  Broken records then get packed up and sent to their previous owners--a great Whitman Swimming tradition that we've had since the pool opened in 2006.

Following record signing, we had dinner in Sherwood followed by a heap of awards.
First were peer awards.  The following awards were voted on by the Men's and Women's team and then awarded to the winners, along with a coveted yellow and white towel as a prize.
  • "STL Superstar" is given to the man and woman with more spirit than they know what to do with.  The award went to Zoey Watts and Kincaid Hoffman, both first-year swimmers.
  • "New Missionary" is given to the first-year student-athletes who embody everything that Whitman Swimming stands for.  Those recipients were Sean Terada, Shanley Miller, Zoey Watts, and Kincaid Hoffman.
  • "Workout Warrior" is given to the man and woman who bring 100% effort to every practice.  Those winners were Will Erickson and Shanley Miller.
  • "Most Inspirational" is given to the man and woman who keep spirits high even when things aren't going as well as we might like.  The winners this year were Keller Hawkins and Dane Kawamoto.
  • The "Landshark" award goes to the man and woman who go above and beyond with their work ethic in the weight room.  This year's winners were Jo Brunner and Nic Win.
  • "Most Improved" goes to the man and woman who showed dramatic growth throughout the course of this season.  The breaststrokers took it home this year, going to Robby Dorn and Nina Dipboye.
  • Finally, the "MVP" award, not surprisingly, went to Karl Mering and Claire Collins after a truly incredible season.  
Sean, Zoey, Kincaid, and Shanley
The coaching staff got to do some award giving as well, selecting a man and a a woman to receive the Coach's Award.  The award is given to the man and woman who are not just exemplary teammates and exemplary student-athletes, but are just genuinely great people to have at practice every day.  The winners of the Coach's Award were Ellen Banks and Cole Weinstein.

Following the swimming banquet, we went to the Varsity Athletics banquet where several of our swimmers received recognition.
First-year swimmers Tai Hallstein and Cole Weinstein were both recipients of the "Most Outstanding Performer" award, given to the man and woman in his or her first season who demonstrate truly outstanding athletic accomplishment.  Sam Starr and Elise Tinseth were both nominated as Most Outstanding Performers in the Sophomore class.  Karl Mering was selected as the Most Outstanding Male Performer from the junior class.  Finally, Claire Collins was nominated as the Most Outstanding Performer for the Senior women's class.
But the evening wasn't over for Claire, as she was the Women's recipient of the Borleske Trophy, an honor given to a senior man and woman for having not just completed an outstanding athletic career, but for being an engaged, enthusiastic member of our Varsity Athletics Department, as well as a model student and community member.  The last Woman Swimmer to receive the award was Whitman's Swimming's first ever National Championship qualifier, Erin Pettersen, in 2008.

From left, Karl, Sam, Jenn, Claire, Cole and Tai
All in all, it was a great last hurrah for the team and especially for our four senior women, Ellen Banks, Claire Collins, Keller Hawkins, and Melanie Notari, who have been incredible leaders and an inspiration for the entire team.  They are by far the highest achieving senior class that our team has ever had.  Their work ethic, commitment to each other and the team, and remarkable achievements outside the pool, will continue to inspire future generations of swimmers for years to come!
From left, Keller, Claire, Mel and Ellen
Now we look ahead to finals and Commencement.  Finals begin one week from today, May 15th, and conclude on May 20th.  Commencement takes place on Sunday, May 25th.  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

PT and Swim Lessons

A beautiful spring day on campus!
Whitman came back to life last week at the conclusion of spring break and now we're off and running for the final six weeks of the semester!  Although things are busier than ever, there is good news: spring has arrived!  Last week we saw sun and temperatures in the 60's and today things are even brighter, with highs in the 70's.  Needless to say, everyone is enjoying the off-season by getting outside for some much needed fun in the sun!

The Women's team going through core exercises
Last weekend, we had the privilege of welcoming Sara Behrens ('13) to campus to give the team a crash course on the importance of core strength, flexibility, and stabilization.  Sara graduated with a degree in biology and has been working as a physical therapy assistant in Seattle since graduating last May.  She plans on getting a PhD in Physical Therapy and will be applying for graduate school in the fall.  Sara met with the Men's and Women's teams and sent everyone away with better awareness and appreciation for the details that lead to better productivity in the pool and weight room and fewer injuries.  Many of the strength, flexibility, and posture exercises that Sara showed us will be incorporated into the team's dryland regime for the off-season and the 2014-15 season.

Swim lessons in the shallow end
It's time for swim lessons again!  Each year during the Walla Walla Public School's spring break, the Whitman Swimmers offer one-on-one swim lessons to local children.  With no public swimming facility in the city, this week-long event offers the community access to a much-needed resource and is a great way for our team to make a positive impact on our region's youth.  Aside from the community impact, the swim lessons also give our student-athletes a great perspective one just how challenging and remarkable it is to train and compete at such a high level day after day.

Finally, today regular classes take a pause while the campus hosts the Whitman annual Undergraduate Conference.  This annual event gives Whitman students an opportunity to make presentations to their peers and discuss their academic pursuits.  The unique, day-long event is centered around community learning, giving everyone on campus the opportunity to better understand what their classmates are passionate about.  Several of our swimmers are presenting throughout the day.  

As spring rolls along, there is no sign of things slowing down!  With prospective students visiting almost daily, outdoor program trips every weekend, intramural ultimate frisbee, softball, and volleyball underway (the swim team has a team in each), the annual spring triathlon just around the corner on May 3rd, and not to mention all the academic demands inherent to this time of year, the season may be over but free time is never as abundant as one might expect!  The energy on campus is high