National Swim Championships: Mering, Sollom-Brotherton Breaking New Ground for Whitman Men's Swim Program
News Release Date:
Monday, March 19, 2012
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Junior Galen Sollom-Brotherton and freshman Karl Mering will break new ground for the Whitman College men's swim team when as they hit the water Wednesday for the start of the NCAA Division III national swimming championships in Indianapolis, Ind.
They are the first Whitman men to qualify for the national championships since Whitman shifted its athletic affiliation from the NAIA to NCAA DIII in the late 1990s.
Both Missionary swimmers will swim in one individual race each day of the meet, which continues through Friday at the Indiana Natatorium in Indianapolis.
Sollom-Brotherton starts with the 500-yard freestyle on Wednesday before tackling the 400-yard individual medley on Thursday and the 1,650-yard freestyle on Friday.
After swimming the 50-yard freestyle on Wednesday, Mering turns his attention to his best stroke -- the butterfly. He swims the 100-yard race Thursday and the 200-yard distance Friday.
Whitman came close to qualifying for nationals in the men's 800-yard freestyle relay, which is limited to the top 16 times in the nation. Mering, Sollom-Brotheron teamed with senior Mitchell Lee and freshman Kevin O'Leary earlier this season to post the 20th-best time in the nation.
"Although our relay was not selected, we are really proud of what those four guys did," Whitman coach Jenn Blomme said. "Whitman has never had a relay considered for national competition, and to post the 20th fastest time in the country is incredible."
Junior Katie Chapman also came this season to qualifying for the national championships, but her provisional qualifying in the 200-yard butterfly failed to make the final cut.
Chapman would have been the second Whitman woman to make nationals. In March of 2008, Erin Pettersen capped her senior season when one of her provisional qualifying times made the final cut for nationals.
"We are so excited to see Galen and Karl make their mark on the national scene this year," Blomme said. "It is reflective of their great talent and a lot of hard work this season."
"But looking beyond this season, it is exciting to consider that this is just the beginning for them, and in many ways just marks the beginning of a new phase of Whitman swimming," she added. "Having swimmers from our program compete at the NCAA's, and to have a relay in contention for the meet, contributes to a paradigm shift with a lot of awesome new possibilities.
"For many years now, there has been significant momentum in our program, and I've been saying what an exciting time it is to be involved in Whitman swimming. As soon as I say that, there is something new and exciting that happens."
Sollom-Brotherton's best shot this week at earning All-American honors (top eight) will come in the 1,650-yard freestyle, where his winning effort (15:35.53) in Febuary's Northwest Conference finals is the second-best NCAA DIII time posted this season.
He will also swim in the 500-yard freestyle, where he has the nation's fifth-best time (4:30.02), and in the 400-yard individual medley, where he ranks 12th (3:59.24).
Mering, the only freshman in the country to post a qualifying time in the 100-yard butterfly, ranks 16th in that event. His time is less than four-tenths of a second out of the eighth spot, however, and less than a minute out of the second spot.
Mering will also swim in the 200-yard butterfly, where his time (1:52.18) ranks him 22nd among those swimming at nationals.
His third event is the 50-yard freestsyle, an event where elite swimmers are separated by hundredths of a second. His time (20.93) ranks 37th among competitors at nationals, but three-tenths of a second is all that separates him from the top 16.
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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; email@example.com