by Jessica Razanadrakoto
Whitworth men’s swim team earned its 12th consecutive NWC championship title, while the women were edged out for first place by Pacific Lutheran University this past weekend in the NWC championships.
“It was a really fun and successful season for a lot of people. Even though the girls didn’t win, they fought extremely hard and the whole team, both guys and girls, really came together to support the girls’ team,” sophomore Trevor Case said.
The first day of competition provided many notable performances for both men and women.
Sophomore Wes Walton finished first in the 200-yard individual medley on Friday and set a new NWC record of 1:51:30. Junior Wes Tatum and Case finished second and third following Walton en route to a Whitworth sweep of the event.
Multiple women also achieved personal bests on the first day of the meet. Junior Alisa Stang set a new Whitworth record of 24.04 in the 50 freestyle, while junior Samantha Smith set the new Buc record of 2:07.67 in the 200 individual medley on Friday evening.
Freshmen Jackie Beal and Jerusha Dressel, along with Stang and Smith won the 400 medley relay with a time of 3:52:05.
The men held first place by 40 points and the women held the top spot by a margin of 17 at the end of day one.
“People have been moving up. In the 500 individual-freestyle, Bridget [Louis] and I were seeded fourth and fifth after prelims, but [Friday night], she went from fifth to second and I went from fourth to third,” senior captain Kate Duvall said.
After the Saturday events, the men had pushed their lead to 125 points, while the women clung to a narrow 18.5-point lead over PLU.
Smith swam an NCAA provisional mark in the 100-yard butterfly in a time of 56.83, Stang came in first place in the 200 individual freestyle, and Beal won the 100 individual backstroke with an NCAA provisional mark and a school record.
The women came from behind in the second 800 freestyle relay, and sophomores Bridget Louis and Kori Carpenter, Stang and Duvall won it with a time of 7:45.79.
“This was the funnest race to get involved in as we came from behind but were still able to win. Everyone thought we were going to lose but it was a turnaround event and we ended up winning,” Duvall said.
The third and final day of competition lent itself to a close finish on the women’s side. The women lost by two points to PLU.
“It came down to the very last relay, a 400 freestyle, to decide the winner,” junior Kaurie Albert said. “Our girls won and set a new meet record, but PLU took second and got more points. It was a very hard battle and the atmosphere and excitement at the pool was huge.
Beal and Duvall got first and second place in the 200-yard backstroke, which became Beal’s best time record of 2:02.93.
Stang won first place and set an NWC best time of 3:32.27 in the final relay.
Whitworth men were not to be overshadowed. Walton, along with sophomores Case and Kyle Wicks and junior Wesley Tatum won the 200 medley relay in an NCAA provisional time of 1:32.72. Also, Tatum set a new school record in the 100 butterfly with a time of 49.07.
“I’m really proud of my teams,” head swimming coach Steve Schadt said. “They did an outstanding job, swam fast, and I feel lucky to be the coach. If you look at how many personal best times, how many broken records there were, people must say that they did a really great job.”
Swimming one event a day was key to Whitworth’s victory, Case said. The swimmers had more energy, allowing half of the Bucs to get into the top A final, and still swim faster in the evening. That was a big deal for the Pirates considering only eight men and eight women can make the top A final, Case said.
“The team morale was really high and there was a lot of support from the women for the men and men for the women. It was great to be a part of the longest winning streak in Northwest Conference history,” senior captain Luke Welle said.
The Pirates will compete in the NWC Spring Invite on Feb. 23 in Forest Grove, Ore.
Contact Jessica Razanadrakoto at email@example.com