Thursday, November 29, 2012

High Hopes for Husky

Whitman is looking forward to a very successful meet this weekend at the annual Husky Invitational at King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, WA.  The meet is one of the largest Senior meets on the West coast.  Over 900 college and club athletes are entered into the meet from as far away as Phoenix, AZ and Calgary, Alberta. 
At this meet last year, then Freshman Karl Mering achieved an NCAA provisional cut in the 100 butterfly that ultimately qualified him for NCAA DIII Nationals.  Katie Chapman also achieved NCAA provisional cuts at the meet.
This year, we are looking forward to even more NCAA cuts.  With a psych sheet that would raise the eyebrows of many DI teams, there will be stiff competition in every event--and with good competition comes faster swimming.  Promising early season swims from many of our swimmers have resulted in great excitement even in the early weeks of the season.  Achieving NCAA time standards now is a huge shot in the arm to boost the team through the end of the semester and into a great week of work in California in January.  There are many NCAA hopefuls on the team this year and this meet could be the door to Nationals for many of our swimmers.
Each day, there is a preliminary session in the morning, and each evening the top 32 individuals in each event and top 16 relay teams get second swims.  The NWC Championships will be held at the same pool February 8-10, with the same event schedule; however, only the top 16 individuals and top 8 relays qualify for finals.  

For live meet results click here, and for more instant updates check the twitter @WhitmanSwimming

Friday, November 16, 2012

Looking Forward to a Big Weekend

In the first four NWC dual meets of the season, our Men’s team has lost a total of three races: the 200 freestyle against Willamette, and the 50 and 100 freestyle against Pacific.

Over the last five years, our Men’s team has transformed into one of the best in the country.  In 2001, Jenn’s first year as Whitman’s head coach, the Men’s team had 7 members.  It wasn’t until 2007 that the team finally got a roster into the double digits.  2007 was also the first year that the men’s team broke into the top four at the NWC Championships.  Since then, the men’s team has never placed worse than 4th at the NWC Championships, including a best ever 2nd place effort in 2012.  2012 was also the first time that any Whitman men qualified for NCAA DIII Nationals, placing 27th as a team. 

Tomorrow morning Whitworth University rolls into town for the Northwest Invitational, along with Pacific University and College of Idaho.  Whitworth has won the NWC Championships every year since 2003.  Whitman has never won a meet against Whitworth.  But for the first time in Whitman's history, there is not only a slim chance of the Whitman men toppling Whitworth, but a very real possibility.  Whitman owns the top times in the Conference 14 our of 18 events: the 50, 200, 500, 1000, and 1650 freestyle events—as well as the 100 backstroke, 100 and 200 breaststroke, 100 and 200 butterfly, 200 IM, 200 and 400 freestyle relays, and the 400 medley relay.  

And for our women, coming off of a big win at Pacific at maintain a 4-0 Conference Dual Meet record, momentum is in their favor.  Our women are fired up and are ready to face-off with two of the top three teams in the Conference.  Freshman, Cameo Hlebasko holds the top times in the NWC in both the 100 and 200 backstroke events, Senior,  Genay Pilarowski holds the fastest 100 breast,   Junior, and Claire Collins holds the fastest 200 breast, and our women are also fastest in the NWC in both the 400 freestyle and 400 medley relay.  There are certain to be some incredible women's races in our pool on Saturday afternoon.

Regardless of the outcome of tomorrow’s meet, it is going to be one of the closest and hardest fought meets of the season for our men and women.  And, win or not, there will definitely be a Whitman vs. Whitworth dance-off on the bulkhead at the conclusion of the meet.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hour of Power Offers Perspective

November is a tough month on our campus.  Course work is demanding, the intensity of our training is high, and sleep comes at a premium.  But last night our team engaged in an annual exercise that has turned into an integral part of our November training, and an opportunity to take a step back.  The Whitman swimmers were some of thousands of athletes from over 150 teams across the world to take part in the Hour of Power Relay. 
This year was the seventh annual Ted Mullin Hour of Power Relay.  The event was started by the Carleton College swimming program after one of their swimmers, Ted Mullin, passed away after a battle with sarcoma cancer.  The particular type of cancer is most commonly found among young people and is often fatal.  Since the first running of the event as awareness raiser and a research fundraiser, it has raised over $330,000.  During the relay, our team split into 5 relays.  The goal is that every relay stays the within the same 50 for the entire hour, with each athlete sprinting one 50 at a time.  Last year there were a total of 160 College, Club, and High School teams participating in the event--over 8000 athletes in total.
In swimming, as in many sports, it's easy to become lost in the details.  So much time and energy is spent dwelling on things like hand position, turns, breakouts, and, of course, times--that it's easy to lose sight of the privilege of being in a place that offers the opportunity to employ talents every day--in the classroom and in the pool.
In the midst of all the stress and tiredness that defines November, the Hour of Power offers a much needed respite, if only for an hour.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Women's Team Fortitude Keeps Them Undefeated

Whitman and Lewis & Clark’s Women’s teams have a rivalry born out of the NWC Championships, many years in the making.  2005 marked the beginning, where Whitman bested LC at the NWC Championships 586-248, Whitman 3rd and LC 7th.  The following year, the tables turned as LC took 2nd with 528 points to Whitman’s 4th place effort of 470 points.  A string of extremely close championship meets over the next five years brought the rivalry to the highest level: In 2007, Whitman’s women defeated LC 407-400, for a third place finish.  In 2008, Whitman was on top yet again, placing third overall with 411 points to LC’s 392.  In 2009, LC defeated Whitman soundly for a third place finish with 456 points to Whitman’s fourth place effort of 320.5 points.  In 2010 and 2011, LC and Whitman found themselves locked into two program-defining battles for third place.  LC came out on top in both of those contests, edging out victories of 356-355 in 2010, and 449-448 in 2011.  The odds of any two teams being separated by only one point after 18 events and three days of competition are astronomically low.  The difference between 3rd place overall and 4th place overall was ultimately determined by a 16th place finish in one individual event.  The 2012 Championship brought revenge to our women’s team.  Whitman placed 3rd with 506 points.  Lewis & Clark was 6th with 303.

This history was not forgotten on Friday night’s contest between Whitman and Lewis & Clark.  Whitman was down five points with only the 100 breaststroke and 200 free relay remaining.  After a 1-2-3 sweep in the breaststroke to pick up 16 points, and another 1-2 finish in the 200 free relay to pick up another 15 points, Whitman’s women won the meet easily 113-92.  Whitman’s breaststroke dominance and powerful final relays outscored LC 31-5 over the final two events—proving that breaststroke continues to be a Whitman stronghold, and that when it comes down the the end, our women can get it done.  

Friday night's drama only set the stage for Saturday’s showdown against Pacific.  After an incredible 102.66-102.33 upset over reigning conference champions, University of Puget Sound, last weekend, Pacific’s women had momentum to carry into another tough weekend of meets against Whitworth on Friday and Whitman.   Falling to Whitworth on Friday night, Pacific came to the pool on Saturday making it clear that though they were defeated the previous night they were ready for battle. 

Whitman easily won the 400 medley relay.  After the early relay victory, Whitman picked up 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in the 1000 free, 2nd and 3rd in the 200 free, 2nd and 3rd in the 50 free, 3rd, 4th and 5th in the 200 IM, and 2nd and 3rd in the 200 fly.  It was Cameo Hlebasko’s continued dominance in the 200 backstroke that notched Whitman’s first individual event victory with a time of 2:12.43.  She hasn't lost a dual meet race in the backstroke yet this year.  Ashley Jay lost a tough race in the 500 free, falling to 2nd but going a season-best 5:25.58.  Going into the 200 breaststroke Whitman was down by 13 points.  

Once again, it was the breaststroke that decided the meet for our women.  Claire Collins swam to a win with a 2:29.70 in the 200 breaststroke, just out-touching Senior teammate Genay Pilarowski who  finished second at 2:29.71.  Freshman, Elise Tinseth, was 4th at 2:33.88.  Following the breaststroke, Whitman finished the meet with a definitive 400 free relay performance.  Senior, Helen Jenne led off, followed by Freshman, Kendra Clinton, Sophomore, Ashley Jay, and Freshman, Cameo Hlebasko.  They won the relay by nearly five seconds and averaged :55.2 per leg.  The final score was Whitman 104, Pacific 101.

Saturday’s victory was a true team effort.  Whitman won just 4 out of 11 events—only 2 out of 9 individual events.  The difference-makers were the swimmers fighting for the one and two points awarded to fourth and fifth place.

These are big victories for our women’s team.  But their toughest contests are yet to come.  Pacific Lutheran and Whitworth’s teams both also hold 4-0 Conference dual meet records.  University of Puget Sound is 3-1, their only loss to Pacific.  Whitworth defeated Pacific and Lewis & Clark easily in their match-ups, and UPS defeated Lewis & Clark as well.  PLU also took down Pacific's women by a significant margin.  Our women face off against PLU, UPS, and Whitworth in January.  By then, we will have only gotten faster as we will have welcomed back Juniors Ellen Banks and Keller Hawkins from a semester of studying abroad.  We will also be joined by Senior, Charlotte Graham, who missed last weekend due to an academic conflict.  Senior, Katie Chapman—who will miss fall competition due to an ACL replacement—is also scheduled to return to competition in January.

This Saturday, November 17th, Whitman is hosting the NW Invitational.  Three other teams will be here for the one-day meet: Whitworth, Pacific, and College of Idaho.  The meet starts at 1pm at the Paul Harvey Pool and will be a 32-event-order format meet—all five freestyle events will be swum, plus the 200 IM, 100’s and 200’s of each stroke, the 200 medley relay and the 800 freestyle relay. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Looking Towards the Future

Last weekend marked the beginning of Whitman's NW Conference dual meet season.  Whitman's men and women won in both contests, defeating Linfield on Friday night and Willamette on Saturday afternoon.  For a full recap about the weekend's meets click here...but keep reading for some fun analysis of the weekend's times and a promising look towards the future. 

Though there were many great swims last weekend, it was our new swimmers who made a splash in their first races in the events in which they will likely compete at the NWC Championships in February.  Many of them posted times this weekend that would have placed them in the top 16 at last year's NWC Championships--and those who didn't showed that with a solid season of training and a good taper anything can happen.
On Friday night, Elise Tinseth's time of 4:54.48 in Friday's 400 IM would have been fast enough to place 11th at last year's championship.  In the very same event, Jo Brunner placed third with a 5:06.25, which would have been good enough for 14th last year.  Also on Friday night, Cameo Hlebasko's outstanding 1:00.40 in the 100 backstroke would have gotten her a 5th place finish in the event's finals the previous year.  Kendra Clinton's 1:03.17 would have been good enough for 10th.  On the Men's side, of the event, Sam Starr's 54.22 would have gotten him 11th, and Will Erickson would have been 13th.  In the 2012 Championships, the Men's 100 backstroke was one of the strongest fields in the meet.  This year it looks to be even stronger.
In the breaststroke, Jo Brunner's 1:12.38 would have placed her 15th last year.  Nick Wechter's time of 1:04.84 would have put him 11th and Robby Dorn's 1:05.43 14th.  Last year, the Men's breaststroke events were two of the weaker events within the Conference.  However, after the first weekend of meets, the Men's breaststroke is looking like a very strong event across the conference--thanks in part to our freshman class.
Saturday was no different.  Elise Tinseth's 200 freestyle time of 2:03.58 would have gotten her 16th.  Sam Starr's 200 freestyle would have been 15th.  Cameo Hlebasko's 50 free would have placed her 15th.  Kendra Clinton's 200 fly would have placed her 9th.  Cameo Hlebasko's easy win in the 200 backstroke at 2:12.39 would have placed her 6th overall last year--just slightly faster than our own Keller Hawkins' Conference effort of 2:12.63.  Sam Starr and Will Erickson's 2:02.60 and 2:02.64 would have gotten them 14th and 15th respectively.  Last year, there were no Seniors in the top 8 finishers in the Men's 200 backstroke.  This year, it will almost certainly be one of the deepest events of the championship.
In the 200 breaststroke, Elise Tinseth's 2:33.81 would have placed her 15th.  For the men in the 200 breast, the NWC was wide open last year.  This year, like the 100 breast, the field looks to be much deeper.  Still, based on last year's results, Nick Wechter's 2:21.36 would have gotten him 8th, Robby Dorn's 2:28.29 would have gotten him 15th and Kevin Wallin's 2:29.12 16th.
Though there is no predicting what other teams will do when it comes down the the Conference Championships in February, there is no doubt that Whitman's new swimmers are will play a huge role in every event.  We are better than ever.

This weekend's meets against Lewis & Clark on Friday at 6pm and Pacific on Saturday at 11am will be good contests for our women.  Pacific defeated UPS's women last weekend with a score of 102.33 to 102.66 after a 3-way tie for first the 50 freestyle.  The margin of victory was so narrow that the meet was ultimately decided by a fifth place finish--instead of a sixth place finish--in one individual event (Standard college dual meet scoring is 9-4-3-2-1 in individual events, with a maximum of three individuals per team scoring, and 11-4-2 in relays, with a maximum of two relays per team scoring). Pacific's women were defeated by PLU 117-89.  Pacfic's men lost both contests.  L&C dropped both of their meets last weekend against PLU and UPS.