I’m absolutely blown away! Whitworth swimming absolutely ripped it up tonight. In my last two years at this school I have never seen a first day of swimming at Conference like we saw today!

The morning went relatively smoothly with Austin “Race Me” Vierra and Michael “Woody” Woodward booking their spot next to me on the plane to Tennessee in March. Austin put together a 5.33.55 in the 500 Freestyle to secure his spot and Mike went 1.52.09 in the 200 IM to place his name high enough on the top times list to get him into the meet!

This evening however things got stepped up in a big way! Here are the highlights of the evening…

Jenifer Benson (24.28) , Brenda Foster (23.80) , Renae Jennings (24.64) and Ashley Lecoq (24.23) got us started off with a fantastic 200 Freestyle relay. Their final time was 1.36.95 which was only one, one hundredth off the NCAA “B” cut mark and definitely got the Whitworth section jumping up and down. The Lewis & Clarke woman claimed second in 1.38.49 and the Whitman woman were third in 1.39.62.

In an attempt to live up the Woman’s performance three freshman and one sophomore  boy stepped up to take on the UPS and Whitman men. Without sounding like I had no faith in our young guys I felt like this was going to be one tough race for our team. BUT they certainly did deliver! Freshman, Aaron Vaccaro led them off with a 21.21, Matt Brody followed in 21.83, then Matt Dangleis in 21.91 and Nathan Ranno anchored with a solid 21.15. Considering only two of these guys had ever been under 22.0 in the 50 Free before this meet and only Aaron had done it from a flat start this was an incredible performance that had the team going ape in the stands! They finished in a 1.26.10 followed by Whitman (who were anchored by a very quick 20.80 split from senior Jamie Nusse) in 1.26.14 and UPS in 1.26.42.

How do you follow up two fantastic victories like that? Easy, put 5 girls in the Championship final of the 500 Freestyle. With the red W’s on their black caps, Kate Duvall, Christine DeHaven, Abby Pavelko, Makayla Palmer and Devon Tursik looked like a force that no one was going to be able to stop as they lined up behind the blocks. Kate, Christine, Abby and Makayla swam neck and neck for three quarters of the race followed closely by Devon. It was Kate that ended up pulling away in the last 75 yards to win it in 5.04.30 followed by Christine (5.12.28), Abby (5.07.72), and Makayla (5.09.80). Devon finished 6th in a 5.12.46.

After swimming a time we felt would qualify him for nationals Austin Vierra went out to simply win the 500 free tonight and that he did! Despite being slightly slower than he was this morning he still looked in control throughout the race and I for one am excited to watch him race in Tennessee later next month. The story of the men’s 500 Free tonight however was Luke Welle. Luke is a freshman that came to Whitworth with a best time of 5.09 in the 500. The guy hopped in the fast lane on the first day of practice and has not looked back since. He dropped 28 seconds on the season and finished 4th tonight in a 4.41.05. With three years to go he is definitely going to be one to watch in the future.

After her 23.80 split in the 200 Free relay senior Brenda Foster added more points to our total when she won the 50 Free. Brenda put up a 24.00 and was followed by Lewis & Clarke’s Rachael Cazden (24.13) Whitworth’s Jenifer Benson (24.24) and Ashley Lecoq (24.52)

Aaron then stepped up and added fuel to the fire when he took down the Whitworth school record in the 50 Free. Becoming the first Whitworth swimmer to break the 21.00 mark from a flat start he won the 50 Free in a 20.95! I would love to tell you how the swim looked (probably awesome) but I was chasing his ass up and down the pool! I finished 2nd in a 21.44, not bad considering I’m still pretty tired. As I have my “A” cuts in the Breaststroke I chose not to rest for this meet but rather to focus on Nationals. Nathan Ranno definitely deserves a mention for his 50 Free. As I mentioned earlier he had never broken 22.00 in the 50 and tonight he pulled out the 21.15 anchoring the relay and a 21.80 from a flat start in the 50 Free final.

We weren’t done with the record breaking though! Next up the Whitworth girls put together a fantastic 400 Medley relay. Kate led them off with a 59.47 in the Backstroke. Melissa Barrringer then put in a best 1.06.72 on the Breaststroke leg. All American, Ashley Lecoq put up a 57.68 Butterfly split and Jennifer Benson anchored with a 52.08 in the Free giving the girls a 3.55.95 breaking the NWC all time record of 3.56.67 set by the Puget Sound girls in 2009!

Inspired by our girl’s performance we knew the boys were going to have to up their game! And that we did! Kalen Darling who is an IM/Distance Freestyle swimmer was asked to swim the Backstroke leg and the guy did work leading us off in a 52.49. I took over and put up a 55.30 on the Breaststroke leg. I am reasonably happy with that time, but I feel like I should be a little faster if I want to achieve my goal times for the year. Still a 55.30 tired should set me up nicely for Nationals, we will see what happens in the individual 100 Breast tomorrow. Aaron then swam a 49.95, which is freaking awesome, but wait… He swam the entire thing with his goggles in his mouth! Mike Woodward anchored us with a 46.15. Our final time was a 3.23.89, which also broke the NWC, meet record as well as the Whitworth school record. The coolest thing about it all though is that we should get that relay into Nationals too which means as of the first night of competition the Whitworth men should have 5 swimmers going to Nationals in March!

I am incredibly proud of our team and how they performed today. We are on a roll! I don’t know how we will swim tomorrow but I have a pretty good feeling about it after tonight! It’s bed time now though – 100 Breast and two more relays for me tomorrow!

P.S. I was an idiot and forgot to clear my camera card of all my photos so I didn’t get any pictures tonight. I will be sure to get some tomorrow so you all get a feel for what is happening inside the Mt Hood CC bubble!