Vets + Rookies = Strong Men's Swim Team

News Release Date:
Tuesday, October 11, 2011

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- The Whitman College men's swim team, after placing third at the Northwest Conference Championships last February, has turned to a group of top-notch freshmen to help replace the six seniors lost to graduation.

But that doesn't mean the men's roster is lacking in returning talent. Juniors Paul Chang and Kevin Dyer, for example, are back with a handful of school records in hand.

After rehabbing knee problems as a freshman, Chang had a huge sophomore campaign, setting new school marks while placing second in both breaststroke races at the conference championships.

The only breaststroker to beat Chang at NWC finals advanced later in the season to win an NCAA Division III national title.


Chang also placed fourth at the NWC finals in the 200-yard individual medley, missing the school record by one-tenth of a second.

Dyer was a major contributor in the freestyle races at the conference meet, placing third at 1,650 yards, fourth at 200 yards, and fifth at 500 yards.

Dyer holds the Whitman freestyle records at 500, 1,000 and 1,650 yards. He also ranks third all-time in the 200-yard freestyle.

Chris Bendix, Mitchell Lee, Matt Rowett, Matt Liedtke and Ian Williams give Whitman another strong senior class with a history of scoring tons of points at NWC championship meet.

Bendix, a team captain, ranks second all-time at Whitman in the 1,000- and 1,650-yard freestyle distances, trailing only Dyer. He also ranks fourth at Whitman in the 400-yard individual medley and fifth in the 500-yard freestyle.


A year ago, Bendix (see photo at top of page) made his best showing in the mile freestyle at the conference championships, placing fourth.

Lee holds Whitman's third- and fourth-best times in the two freestyle sprints, and he ranks fourth all-time in the 100-yard breaststroke as well.

Lee was fourth in two events (100-yard freestyle, 100-yard breaststroke) and fifth in the 50-yard freestyle at last year's NWC championships.

Liedtke placed seventh and eighth in the butterfly events at the same conference championship meet, and he ranks No. 4 and No. 5 in those events on the Whitman Top 10 lists.

Rowett, a team captain, missed the championships last year while on foreign study, but he made notable contributions in the butterfly, freestyle and IM races in his previous two trips to the NWC finals.


Williams, while he also swims the backstroke and IM events, will probably make his best contributions in the distance freestyle races, coach Jenn Blomme says.

Returning sophomores include Shunei Asao and Jacob Gavin in the backstroke and freestyle. "Shunei was one of our primary backstrokers last season, and he should continue to get stronger and faster this season," Blomme says.

"Jacob was hurt in a skiing accident last winter during the semester break, so he was very limited after that with his training. He's back healthy now and able to train more seriously. This is a second chance for him to see what he can do."

Colin Orr, a sophomore focused on butterfly events, has shown a lot of progress over the past year, Blomme notes. "It always amazes me to see our swimmers get stronger and faster as they dedicate themselves to off-season training and fitness."


Other returning juniors are Tyler Hurlburt, Andrew Roehrig and Joey Gottlieb. All three swim freestyle events while Roehrig and Gottlieb also contribute in the backstroke.

"Tyler and Andrew are two more swimmers who have continued to work hard and get stronger," Blomme says.

Gottlieb returns to the squad after missing time to injury. "We're glad to have Joey back and anxious to see what he can do now that he's healthy again," Blomme says.

The talented crop of newcomers include junior transfer Galen Sollom-Brotherton (Dublin, Calif.; Dublin HS, Diablo Valley College) and freshmen Karl Mering (Boise, Idaho; Boise HS), Kevin O'Leary (Lake Oswego, Ore.; Lake Oswego HS) and Nic Win (Bothell, Wash.; Jackson HS).

Sollom-Brotherton, whose older brother Noel still holds Whitman's school record in the 200-yard backstroke, has posted distance freestyle times that should move him to the top of the NWC pecking order.


"Galen is very talented," Blomme says.

Mering in the butterfly and O'Leary in the backstroke have the potential to set new Whitman records in their first seasons.

"Nic Win is also going to be a strong swimmer for us in the backstroke and individual medley events," Blomme says. "I love all of his strokes. He's a very disciplined technician."

Rounding out the first-year class are Yohan Mahoney (Seattle, Wash.; Lakeside School) and Tabor Martinsen (Meadow Vista, Calif.; Sacramento Waldorf School).

"Yohan will be contributing in the breaststroke," Blomme says. "Tabor took a break from swimming for a few years, so he's still rebuilding his strokes. He's working hard."

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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902;