WALLA WALLA, Wash. – The Northwest Conference swim season gets rolling in earnest this weekend as Whitman College hosts the annual Sprint Pentathlon and Relay Meet in the Paul Harvey Pool.

Seven of the nine NWC schools will have teams at the two competitions. Willamette is unable to participate this weekend, and George Fox does not have swim teams. Whitman swim coach Jenn Blomme expects more than 200 swimmers to descend on Whitman's pool in the Baker Ferguson Fitness Center.

Both competitions are free and open to the public. The Whitman pool facility, which hosted last season's NWC Championships, has an elevated seating area for about 200 people. The Sprint Pentathlon starts at 6 p.m. Friday. The Relay Meet begins at 11 a.m. Saturday. Both meets will last between two and three hours.

"This is just a fun way to get the season started," Blomme said. "This is the only time this season we'll be swimming at some of these distances."

In the Sprint Pentathlon, each swimmer races at 50 yards in each of the four strokes -- freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly -- as well as in a 100-yard individual medley. At the end of the pentathlon, swimmers are ranked by their combined times for all five events.

Saturday's Relay Meet includes three "mixed" events (200-yard medley, 200-yard freestyle, 400-yard freestyle) in which the relay teams are comprised of two women and two men from each school.

The rest of the relay events will be divided into the normal women's and men's competitions. Each relay team will have three swimmers. There will be 300-yard relays in the butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and individual medley, and two relays (600 yards, 900 yards) in the freestyle.

There will be team scores for all nine relay events, as well as separate men's and women's team scores.

Dave Holden,
Sports Information Director,
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
(509) 527-5902; holden@whitman.edu