Swimmers Break 5 Records, Earn All-NWC Honors 15 Times at NWC Championships

Rachel Harvill (Sr., Alamo, CA/Monte Vista HS)
Rachel Harvill (Sr., Alamo, CA/Monte Vista HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University swimmers broke five school records and earned All-Northwest Conference honors a total of 15 times during the 2019 NWC Swimming Championships from Feb. 7 through Feb. 10 at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Washington. The Bearcats were guided in their efforts by Head Coach Brent Summers and Assistant Coach Erin McVeigh.

Athletes received First Team All-NWC recognition by placing in the top three of an individual event or by participating on a winning relay team. Second Team All-NWC recognition went to swimmers who placed fourth through eighth in an individual event or competed on a relay team that finished second or third.

Bearcats who set school records in individual events at the NWC Championships were Ben Fritz (So., Los Gatos, CA/Leigh HS) and Derek Ludwig (Jr., Moraga, CA/Campolindo HS).

Fritz placed fourth in the men's 1,650-yard freestyle in 16:22.00 to set the Willamette record. He broke his own record of 16:30.34 set at the 2018 NWC Championships. Fritz also set a new record in the 1,000-yard freestyle during the race, as he completed the first 1,000 yards in 9:54.46. The previous record was 9:59.84 by Brady Childs in 2000.

Ludwig set the school record in the men's 100-yard buttterfly while placing sixth in the final with a time of 51.42 seconds. He broke the record of 51.43 set by Steve Koga 40 years ago in 1979. Ludwig almost set the Willamette record in the prelims, when he was timed at 51.44.

Willamette also set two records in relay events. The new top times were recorded in the men's 800-yard freestyle relay and the women's 200-yard medley relay.

Derek Ludwig (Jr., Moraga, CA/Campolindo HS) The men's 800-yard freestyle relay team included Fritz, Alexander Hougan (Jr., Olympia, WA/Olympia HS), Daniel Fang (So., Rancho Santa Margarita, CA/Catholic HS), and Ludwig. WU's overall time of 7:02.28 was 0.82 faster than the previous school record of 7:03.10 set by Russ Scovel, Ryan Duus, Claude Grove and Danny James 27 years ago in 1992. Willamette took fourth place in the 800 freestyle relay.

Swimming for the Bearcats in the women's 200-yard medley relay were Corinne Pierson (Fr., Port Townsend, WA/Port Townsend HS), Min Wei (Fr., Fushun, China/Cascade HS), Kiley Lin (Sr./Jr., Palo Alto, CA/Henry M. Gunn HS), and Rachel Harvill (Sr., Alamo, CA/Monte Vista HS). The Bearcats finished sixth in the event.

WU's 200 medley relay time of 1:49.24 lowered the school record by 0.11 from the previous record of 1:49.35, set in 2016 by Lin, Cassie Tallman ('18), Malia Santos ('16) and Michaela Zuber ('16). The school record has been broken five times since 2015 following 18 years of holding steady after being set at 1:52.42 in 1997.

Four Bearcats -- Frtiz, Niki Kates (Jr., Truckee, CA/Forest Charter School), Lin and Ludwig -- each received three All-NWC awards. Colin Hakeman (Jr., Bellingham, WA/Sehome HS) registerd All-NWC honors in two events, while Mykah Fujiwara (Sr., Kaneohe, HI/Punahou School) was All-NWC in one event.

Fritz was named Second Team All-NWC in the men's 200-yard freestyle (4th place), men's 1,650-yard freestyle (4th place) and men's 500-yard freestyle (6th place). Kates was Second Team All-NWC in the women's 200-yard individual medley (5th place), women's 200-yard backstroke (5th place) and women's 100-yard backstroke (8th place). Lin received Second Team All-NWC recognition in the 100-yard backstroke (6th place), 200-yard butterfly (6th place) and 100-yard butterfly (8th place). Ludwig attained Second Team All-NWC honors in the men's 100-yard butterfly (6th place), men's 200-yard butterfly (6th place) and men's 200-yard individual medley (7th).

Hakeman earned Second Team All-NWC status in the men's 400-yard individual medley (4th place) and the men's 1,650-yard freestyle (6th place). Fujiwara was Second Team All-NWC in the men's 200-yard breaststroke.

The Bearcats placed ninth through 16th a total of 13 times during the NWC Championships. In most cases this involved swimming in the "B" finals after qualifying in prelims. However, all of the events on Sunday, Feb. 10 were held in one session of heats against time to determine final standings due to the weather.

WU athletes who swam in the "B" finals or placed ninth through 16th:  Two events -- Anna Burdine (Sr., Seattle, WA/Mount Rainier HS), Fang and Harvill; One event -- Robbie Daugherty (Fr., Reno, NV/Damonte Ranch HS), Fujiwara, Hakeman, Hougan, Pierson, Cameron Taggesell (So., Sonoma, CA/Sanoma Valley HS) and Wei.

Willamette Men's Swimming
Second Team All-NWC

Note:  Times are from finals

Ben Fritz (So., Los Gatos, CA/Leigh HS)
1,650-yard freestyle, 4th place, 16:22.00 (school record), also set school record in the 1,000 in this race (9:54.46)
200-yard freestyle, 4th place, 1:43.23
500-yard freestyle, 6th place, 4:43.14

Derek Ludwig (Jr., Moraga, CA/Campolindo HS)
100-yard butterfly, 6th place, 51.42 (school record)
200-yard butterfly, 6th place, 1:56.76
200-yard individual medley, 7th place, 1:58.43

Colin Hakeman (Jr., Bellingham, WA/Sehome HS)
400-yard individual medley, 4th place, 4:17.10
1,650-yard freestyle, 6th place, 17:02.61

Mykah Fujiwara (Sr., Kaneohe, HI/Punahou School)
200-yard breaststroke, 8th place, 2:11.46

Willamette Women's Swimming
Second Team All-NWC

Note:  Times are from finals

Niki Kates (Jr., Truckee, CA/Forest Charter School)
200-yard backstroke, 5th place, 2:07.37
200-yard individual medley, 5th place, 2:10.41
100-yard backstroke, 8th place, 59.30

Kiley Lin (Jr./So., Palo Alto, CA/Henry M. Gunn HS)
100-yard backstroke, 6th place, 59.62
200-yard butterfly, 6th place, 2:13.20
100-yard butterfly, 8th place, 59.19