WALLA WALLA, Wash. - For a second consecutive season, Whitman College swim coach Jennifer Blomme has earned Northwest Conference "Coach of the Year" honors for women's swimming.
Blomme's award was announced Sunday night at the conclusion of the NWC Championships in Spokane, Wash. Gary Gutierrez, the swim coach at Linfield College, was named men's Coach of the Year. The awards are decided by a vote of all coaches in the conference.
Competing in a field of eight schools, the Whitman women's team placed third in the championship meet with 586.5 points. That was one spot higher than it finished in last year's championships. The Missionary women placed fifth at the 2003 meet and sixth in 2002.
During the recently completed dual meet season, the Whitman women finished third in the final NWC standings with a 5-2 record against conference opponents. The Missionares were 7-2 on the season in dual meets.
The Whitman women's program continued to improve this season despite the loss of its top two women from the previous season. First-year swimmers Nancy Alexander and Erin Pettersen helped fill that void, setting new school records during the championship meet. Alexander established new school marks in both backstroke events, placing second at 200 yards and fourth at 100 yards. Pettersen finished third in the 200-yard butterfly, setting a Whitman record in the process.
Sophomore Alexis Krupp led Whitman in scoring at the championship meet, placing second, fourth and fifth in her individual events. Nora Feeney, also a sophomore, was Whitman's second-leading scorer, placing third, fifth and seventh in her events.
Blomme, who also coaches the men's swim team at Whitman, joined the Missionary coaching staff in the fall of 2000, after completing a master's degree in applied sports science at Indiana University. She served as a volunteer women's swim coach at Indiana for two seasons while she worked on her master's.
As an undergraduate, Blomme was a varsity swimmer at Grinnell (Iowa) College, where she specialized in the breaststroke. Grinnell, which has a traditionally strong NCAA Div. III swim program, captured its conference title in two of her four seasons there.
After earning her undergraduate degree in Spanish at Grinnell in 1996, Blomme was an assistant swim coach at Dickinson College (Carlisle, Penn.) for one season and the head coach at Bryn Mawr (Pennsylvania) College for one season.
Taking the coaching position at Whitman was a homecoming for Blomme, who was born in Walla Walla while her mother, Gayle Blomme, was working as a sabbatical teaching replacement in the English Department at Whitman. The family soon moved to the Olympia, Wash., area and later relocated to Michigan.
Dave Holden, Whitman Sports Information
509 527-5902; firstname.lastname@example.org