WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Kevin Howard, a recent graduate of New York's University of Rochester, is the new assistant swim coach at Whitman College.

Howard, who graduated in May with a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering, was a team captain at Rochester in each of his final three seasons. He holds school records at three backstroke distances and shares in two Yellowjacket relay records.

Howard was a four-time provisional qualifier for the NCAA Division III national championships, twice in the 100-yard backstroke and twice in the 200-yard backstroke.

He joins a men's and women's swim program at Whitman that head coach Jenn Blomme has developed into one of the best in the Northwest Conference over the past decade.

Blomme also is assisted by Jamie Kennedy, a longtime volunteer coach, and Eric Hisaw, the program's strength and conditioning coach.

Howard brings a fresh burst of energy and enthusiasm to the Whitman program, Blomme says.

"I could not be more excited to have Kevin on staff," she says. "He is going to be an incredible asset. He's only been with us foir a few weeks, but he's already integrated himself into all aspects of the program."

Howard's swimming background makes him a good fit for Whitman, she adds.

"He was an outstanding performer as a swimmer at Rochester, but he was also a consummate teammate. He was focused not only on how to swim fast, but also on how to develop and maintain a strong team chemistry.

"Kevin is a very bright, energetic and talented young coach. We are lucky to have him."

Howard, a native of the Hamilton, Mass., area, began his own competitive swim career near the end of middle school. By the time he was in high school, he was helping coach less experienced swimmers when he wasn't in the water himself.

As an undergraduate at Rochester, he also helped two summers with its swim technique camp.

"We worked with campers between the ages of eight and 18 on stroke mechanics," Howard says. "I was responsible for running the under-water and above-water video cameras and then analyzing the video to make stroke corrections.

"I also was responsible for teaching proper nutrition and dry-land strength and conditioning."

Whitman's first few weeks of training have been focused on technique, Howard says.

"Conditioning is always important, but proper technique is really the key to being a successful college swimmer. I really enjoy working one-on-one with swimmers to help them refine their strokes."

Give Howard the opportunity and he raves about all aspects of his new coaching job.

"Whitman is a very cool place," he says. "Jenn (Blomme) has a great program, the pool facilities are beautiful, and our incoming and returning swimmers are very talented.

"We're going to break a lot of school records and have a great season. I just wish I had known about Whitman when I was looking for colleges for my own undergraduate experience."

The Whitman swim teams kick off their 2011-12 season this Saturday when College of Idaho comes to town for a non-conference dual meet.

The start time is 2 p.m. at the Louise and Paul Harvey Pool in Whitman's Baker Ferguson Fitness Center.

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