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 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Nationals Day 4

Claire and Karl were back in action for the final day of this long, 4 day swim meet.  Even tough both of them were only swimming individual events, the travel and physical and mental stress that this high-stakes meet creates is a lot to handle.  Fortunately, Karl and Claire rallied and day 4 was another record-setting day!

Karl swam first again this morning, clocking in a Whitman record 45.18 100 freestyle.  His time was fast enough to qualify him for finals in the 16th and final position.  The NWC record in the 100 freestyle is 45.12, a time that eluded Karl in finals as well.  Despite taking his finals swim out .22 faster than his morning swim, he couldn't quite catch the NWC record time but ended up 15th overall with a 45.27.  The 100 freestyle was incredibly tight this year.  Karl was 15th at 45.27 and the winning time was just over a second faster than Karl at 44.18.  Karl's 100 freestyle final was his 3rd All-America swim of the meet and the 6th of his career so far, the most in Whitman Athletics history.

Claire followed Karl's morning swim with a tremendous swim of her own in the 200 breaststroke.  After a little bit of disappointment about not getting under the 1:04 barrier in the 100 yesterday, Claire was determined to break 2:20 in the 200 and that's just what she did.  She posted a Whitman record 2:19.92 preliminary time which was good enough to qualify her for the finals session in 11th place.  Claire had nearly identical splits in the evening race as she did in her morning except for one major difference: like her 100, she closed better than anyone in her heat.  She finished with a final 50 split of 36.11, over half a second faster than her morning swim's final 50 split.  The end result tonight was another Whitman record time and 11th place overall finish at 2:19.47.  Claire's 200 breaststroke finish earned her a 2nd All-America award and was her 3rd All-America award of her career.

After the meet, we went out for a nice celebratory dinner with both Claire's and Karl's parents.  Many thanks to both of them for making the trip from Burlingame, CA, and Boise, ID, respectively.  The support from all our Whitman Swimming parents and family and friends over the last week has been incredibly meaningful to everyone.  And a major shout-out to Keller Hawkins who made the drive to Indianapolis all the way from Walla Walla.  Even though she had to get her car home to Nashville anyway, having Keller here for the meet was so inspiring for all of us.  To all the Whitman swimmers and supporters, thank you!  We could never have made it here without you!

Claire and Jenn waving to Claire's parents in the stands after her 200 breast
Tomorrow, we head out of Indiana after (fortunately) getting to sleep in tomorrow.  Karl and Jenn head back to Walla Walla, Claire is off to spend the week at home with her family in Burlingame, and I'm off to experience the south with with Keller and her family in Nashville.  

Thanks for a great Nationals and a great season and I hope we see you at Whitman soon!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Nationals Day 3

Aside from being Karl's 21st birthday today, there were a few other notable things going on.  This morning, both Claire and Karl broke NWC and Whitman records in their individual events.  Karl struck first in the 200 butterfly, swimming to a 1:47.31 earning a second-place seed for tonight's final.  Claire followed Karl's performance with a 1:04.07 100 breaststroke and a 10th place seed for finals.

Tonight, the buzz on the pool deck was that the Men's 200 butterfly was going to be the best race of the night and it proved to be just that.  Karl, the University of Redlands' Jeff Depew, and Mary Washington's Hugh Anderson, battled it out in dramatic fashion.  Karl led until the 150 yard mark but couldn't quite match the finishing speed of Depew and Anderson.  In the end, it was Anderson who came out on top with a winning time of 1:45.36, just out-touching Depew, who finished in 1:45.38.  Karl was 3rd at 1:45.78, shattering his NWC and Whitman records in the event.  Any of this year's top 3 times would have won the event at last year's meet.  The best part: each of the top 4 finishers is a junior.

Claire's 100 breaststroke final was every great as Karl's 200 fly.  Claire was out a little slower than her morning swim at the 50 and finished the race even better than she did this morning.  Her finals time of 1:04.18 was just off her morning swim but the quality of her swimming certainly wasn't.  She had the 2nd fastest back-half in her heat, closing the race down in 33.37.  After watching her swim her 100 tonight, I can't wait to see what she can do in the 200 tomorrow.  I think we're in for another awesome race!

It was also senior night at the meet and Claire and all the other senior National qualifiers from all the other teams were recognized before the start of the finals session.  Needless to say, we'll all miss Claire very much.

Karl finishes up his meet tomorrow as well, swimming the 100 freestyle.  Because he didn't compete in the 100 freestyle at the NWC Championships, his entry time is from his mid-season taper at the Husky Invitational in December.  With his 400 free relay anchor split of 44.57 at Conference in February, it's hard to say what will happen tomorrow!

We had a nice team/birthday dinner with Claire's and Karl's parents after the meet tonight--all while watching our Women's Basketball team handle UW Whitewater and advance to the Championship game tomorrow!  It's such an exciting time to be part of Whitman Athletics!