By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- The Willamette University men's and women's swimming teams are ready to compete at the 2019 Northwest Conference Swimming Championships, which will be held at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Washington, starting tonight (Feb. 7) and continuing through Sunday, Feb. 10. Champions will be determined in 26 individual events (13 men's/13 women's) and 10 relay events (5 men's/5 women's).
All nine NWC colleges and universities will be competing together for the first time with the addition of George Fox University, which is participating in its first season of swimming.
Tonight's schedule will include the 200-yard medley relay and the 800-yard freestyle relay in both men's and women's competition. As in the past, each college or university can enter one team in each relay event. The Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center has eight lanes. With the addition of George Fox, each relay will be two heats -- one with four team and one with five teams. The relay champion will be the team with the fastest time.
"I'm excited to watch our relays, especially our men's 800 free relay," Head Coach Brent Summers said.
Action on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, will begin with preliminary heats at 10 a.m. (PST) each day. Finals will be held at 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Prelims in the individual events will determine which swimmers advance to the championship finals (8 fastest times) and the consolation finals (9th through 16th fastest times). In individual events, only swimmers who qualify for the "A" (championship) final can win each event. Swimmers in the "B" (consolation final) will battle for ninth place in each event.
Some of Willamette's top swimmers who will be competing this weekend for the women's team are Min Wei (Fr., Fushun, China/Cascade HS), Kiley Lin (Sr./Jr., Palo Alto, CA/Henry M. Gunn HS), Rachel Harvill (Sr., Alamo, CA/Monte Vista HS), Anna Burdine (Sr., Seattle, WA/Mount Rainier HS), and Niki Kates (Jr., Truckee, CA/Forest Charter School), and Niki Kates (Jr., Truckee, CA/Forest Charter School). Included among WU's top men's swimmers are Ben Fritz (So., Los Gatos, CA/Leigh HS), Derek Ludwig (Jr., Moraga, CA/Campolindo HS), Mykah Fujiwara (Sr., Kaneohe, HI/Punahou School), and Colin Hakeman (Jr., Bellingham, WA/Sehome HS).
Wei is ranked eighth among competitors this weekend with a top time of 1:09.35 in the 100-yard breaststroke. She enters the NWC Meet listed at 13th in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:37.55. In addition, Wei has registered times of 1:03.54 in the 100-yard butterfly and 2:23.55 in the 200-yard individual medley.
Lin begins the weekend with the eighth fastest time by an NWC swimmer this season in the 200-yard butterfly at 2:16.40. She holds 10th in the listings for the 100-yard backstroke at 1:00.75 and the 200-yard backstroke at 2:14.86. She is 16th in the 100-yard butterfly at 1:01.20.
As a sprinter for the Bearcats, Harvill will compete in the 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle and 200-yard freestyle. She is ranked 16th in the 50 free at 25.52 seconds. She has recorded top times of 56.43 seconds in the 100 free and 2:04.22 in the 200 free.
In the NWC Meet's two distance events, Burdine is ranked 14th in the 500-yard freestyle and is 16th in the 1,650-yard freestyle. Her best times this year are 5:29.45 in the 500 free and 19:20.87 in the 1,650 free. Burdine owns a top time of 5:01.87 in the 400-yard individual medley this season.
Kates is listed fifth among swimmers in the 200-yard individual medley and is sixth in the 100-yard backstroke. She has achieved a time of 2:14.72 in the 200 I.M. this season and has been timed as fast as 1:00.47 in the 100 backstroke. Her top time this season in the 200-yard backstroke is 2:19.74.
For the Bearcat men's team, Fritz is set to swim in the three longest freestyle races. He is ranked ninth in the 500-yard freestyle at 4:57.90 and is ninth in the 1,650 freestyle with a time of 17:34.45. Fritz is 11th in the 200-yard freestyle at 1:48.48.
Ludwig is listed in the top eight heading into three events this weekend. He is sixth in the 200-yard butterfly at 2:01.15. He is eighth in both the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard butterfly, after earning times of 2:02.45 in the 200 I.M. and 52.42 seconds in the 100 butterfly.
Also for Willamette, Fujiwara is ranked ninth in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:16.88. Fujiwara is listed 14th in the 100-yard breaststroke at 1:02.46. He has a top time of 2:06.97 in the 200-yard individual medley.
Hakeman starts the NWC Championships with a ranking of fifth in the 400-yard individual medley at 4:22.94. He is 12th in the 1,650 yard freestyle with a time of 17:39.96. Hakeman's top time in the 500-yard freestyle of 5:01:28 is ranked 16th in the NWC.