By Dani Saunders
Both the men’s and the women’s swim teams were in Federal Way, Washington this past weekend competing in the NWC Swimming Championships. The championship meet began on Friday, Feb. 9, with four Bearcat swimmers qualifying for the ‘A’ category finals while six clutched a spot in the ‘B’ category finals.
In the ‘A’ category finals, first year Ben Fritz qualified in the men’s 500-yard freestyle, sophomore Niki Kates and senior Cassie Tallman qualified for the women’s 200-yard individual medley and sophomore Ben Hedman qualified for the men’s 200-yard individual medley. For the ‘B’ category, junior Anna Burdine and senior Kate Harvey both qualified for the women’s 500-yard freestyle, sophomore Colin Hakeman qualified in the men’s 500-yard freestyle, senior Mark Yuvienco qualified for the men’s 200-yard medley and junior Rachel Harvill qualified for the women’s 50-yard freestyle.
Sophomore Ben Hedman swam his way to a new Willamette University record for the men’s 200-yard medley with a time of 1:55.78. Tallman placed fifth overall in her race with a time of 2:11.76 in the women’s 200-yard individual medley. Niki Kates finished seventh with a time of 2:13.07. Burdine placed second in her race in the ‘B’ category, but was 10th overall in the women’s 500-yard freestyle. Ludwig placed first in the 200-yard individual medley in the ‘B’ category, earning him a spot of ninth best in the entire meet. Lastly, Harvill placed 15th overall in the 50-yard freestyle.
Saturday was a big day for the Bearcat swimmers as well. Hedman ranked third overall in the men’s 400-yard individual medley, senior Ashlyn Witherwax set the record for the women’s 100-yard breaststroke and Kiley Lin set the record for the women’s 100-yard butterfly. Although Witherwax set a new school record with her time of 1:06.68, she placed seventh overall in her race. Kiley Lin also placed seventh overall in her race. Lin also placed seventh in the women’s 100-yard backstroke and was followed by fellow Bearcat Niki Kates (earning eighth in this race). Hedman, with his third place time of 4:10.06 in the men’s 400-yard individual medley, earned him a spot on Willamette’s record boards, inching into the fifth spot overall.
On Sunday, three Bearcats reached the ‘A’ category finals in the men’s 200-yard butterfly: Hedman and Yuvienco. The three Bearcats who reached the ‘B’ finals on Sunday were junior Mykah Fujiwara, Daniel Fang and Jensine Rasmussen. In the final races of the meet, three Bearcats placed fourth in their individual events. Tallman in the women’s 200-yard breaststroke, Ben Fritz in the 1,650-yard freestyle and Lin the women’s 200-yard butterfly. Hedman, however, placed second overall in the men’s 200-yard butterfly and had a 2-4-8 finish for the meet. This was the last meet for the swim team, and they went out with a bang setting records left and right. Go Bearcats!