By Jared Spohr
This past Saturday, the Bearcat swim team competed in their final conference meet of the season against Linfield College. Unfortunately, Linfield took home first place in both the men’s and women’s competition. Linfield improved to 5-2 in the NWC, while Willamette fell to 1-6.
This was senior day for the Bearcats, as nine total swimmers were honored in a ceremony before the game. Mark Yuvienco was the lone senior honored on the men’s team, while Margo Coxon, Kate Harvey, Jamie Johnson, Rachel Kiser-Taylor, Nandi Moore, Diana Sellner, Cassie Tallman and Ashlyn Witherwax were honored on the women’s team..
Tallman won the women’s 200-yard breaststroke with Witherwax placing second. Later in the meet, Tallman placed second in the 200-yard medley, only missing first place by about a second.
For the men, Colin Hakeman took home first in the men’s 500-yard freestyle, while Mykah Fujiwara took home first in the men’s 200-yard breaststroke. Fujiwara beat out Linfield swimmer by .08 of a second in a nail-biter finish.
The end of this last home meet signaled the end of the regular season. The Bearcats will now turn their focus to preparing for the NWC championships held from Friday, Feb. 9 through Sunday, Feb. 11.
I talked to Yuvienco and Moore, about their final season as Bearcat swimmers.
“I think that overall the team performed very well! We have been training pretty hard and therefore swimming tired. However, we all manage to push through the pain and “Boss Up” as my cousin would say. There were a lot of very good races where I saw how much improvement there was in my teammates strokes, turns, and dives.” Moore said.
Yuvienco also elaborated on the growth of the team, “This team has grown a lot since the beginning of the season. I think at times we either started meets a little sluggish or didn’t finish like we knew we were capable of. However, the second half of the season we really attacked each swim meet like it was our last and the team is in good shape right now to make a huge splash in the pool in two weeks at NWC Championships.”
As they both enter the final leg I asked them to reflect on their favorite moment of their journey thus far.
Yuvienco remarked, “My favorite memory as a Bearcat swimmer so far was my freshman year at the Northwest Conference Championships. On the final day in the 200 butterfly broke the school record and also achieved the NCAA B cut. It was such a joyous moment and it really made me feel like I had solidified myself as one of the top butterfiers in conference.”
Moore reminisced, “My favorite memory is made up of two events. The first event was during practice one day with the sprinters. We were using fins that day and doing 25’s or 50’s… I can’t recall exactly but I remembered that I was beating my teammates Rachel Harvill and Jamie Johnson, which made me feel great about myself not only because they’re extremely fast, but I knew that if I could beat them then I was also fast. They both looked at me after I beat them and told me that I could do a 26 in my 50 free. I wasn’t too sure I could do that, but fast forward to conference in February 2017 and I swam a 26.9 in my 50 free individual.
The second event is when my coach told me that I was going to be swimming in the 200 freestyle relay at conference because of my 50 individual time I had previously swam. It was the best feeling of my life.”
The Bearcats look to continue the strides they have made in the Conference championships races next week in Federal Way, Washington. The Men’s swim team is currently 2-3 and the women’s team is also 2-3.