By Garrett Atkinson, The Pioneer
The Whitman men’s and women’s swimming teams have begun their 2014-2015 season last weekend with a successful showing at the first meet of the season in Salem, Ore. As a team, Whitman placed third out of six in the relays and in the sprint meet the men and women placed one and three, respectively. In the relay competition, Whitman was a mere one point from achieving a three-way tie for first place. Whitman finished with 63 points, while both Whitworth and Pacific Lutheran garnered 64. Pacific, Willamette and Linfield all finished with less than 40 points.
“I believe I speak for the team when I say that both the women’s and men’s teams were very happy with our performance this weekend,” said junior Captain Samuel Starr.
Beyond being pleased with just the strong results of the weekend, incoming first-year swimmer Noah Schlenk expressed that the team enjoyed their first meet as a team as well.
“We also were able to function well as a team and had a ton of fun,” said Schlenk.
The results of this meet do not contribute to final conference standings, but the meet is noteworthy for other reasons. It serves as an important opportunity for the first-years on the team to gain experience competing at a college level. While this experience is valuable, Whitman’s young swimmers did not need much of an adjustment period, as a number of first-years finished in the top 10 in various events. First year Tara Stahlecker placed fifth in the Women’s 100 Meter IM and Clark Sun placed third in the Men’s 50 Meter Butterfly and ninth in the Men’s 50 Meter Backstroke.
Johanna Brunner, a junior captain for the women’s team, noted another purpose of the event — to get a better feel for the competition.
“To figure out who the competition is, I think that’s one of the big things we see this weekend. We have these meets with the entire conference so we’re seeing all the people we’re going to be seeing in the season, it lets us feel out the competition,” said Brunner.
The last important part of the meet for the team was just for everyone on the team to get experience swimming competitively.
“It’s a good chance to get some practice racing, we haven’t really had much practice. We had one meet with the alumni, but this is the first real chance to compete with our conference and to practice that competition,” said Brunner.
On all fronts the team did exceptionally well. Though two schools were not represented (Lewis and Clark and the University of the Puget Sound), the team was certainly exposed to some of the major competitors in the conference (particularly Whitworth on the men’s side). Perhaps more notably, the team proved its capacity to successfully compete against the best teams in the conference. Schlenk expressed his excitement about the upcoming season.
“We’re all really psyched to go and swim. We’re ready,” said Schlenk.