Schulze is Fifth in 200 Backstroke Prelims, Advances to Finals

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

FEDERAL WAY, WASH. -- Gwen Schulze (Sr., Silverdale, WA/Central Kitsap HS/Austin College) of Willamette University has reached the Championship Finals in a second event at the Northwest Conference Swimming Championships at the King County Aquatic Center.

Schulze, who took second place in the women's 100-yard butterfly in 1:00.26 on Saturday, Feb. 13, earned a spot on the finals of the 200-yard backstroke with a preliminary round time of 2:14.23 on Sunday, Feb. 14. Cat Menkel-Lawrence of Lewis & Clark College finished the race in 2:08.38 for the top time of the 200 back prelims.

Schulze swam well in the preliminary heat. Her time was more than five seconds faster than her seed time of 2:19.53.

It also was more than two seconds faster than her time of 2:16.30 in the Consolation Finals of the 200-yard backstroke two years ago at the 2008 NWC Championships when she placed 11th overall. Schulze did not swim the 200 backstroke at the 2009 NWC Championships.

Four other Willamette swimmers earned spots in the Consolation Finals set for Sunday evening.

Lauren Ballinger (Fr., Wenatchee, WA/Wenatchee HS) qualified for the "B" Final in the women's 100-yard freestyle, while Kara Koetje (So., Arlington, WA/Stanwood HS) and Kayla Kosaki (Fr., Hilo, HI/Waiakea HS) both advanced in the women's 200-yard butterfly. Ian McGahan (Fr., Tacoma, WA/Stadium HS) moved into the "B" Final in the men's 200-yard butterfly.

Ballinger's time in the 100-yard freestyle was 56.48 seconds, as she placed 13th in the prelims. It was the first time she broke the 57-second mark this season. She consistently finished under the 58-second mark throughout WU's dual meet schedule and had a previous top time of 57.33 seconds.

Koetje took 13th in the 200-yard butterfly prelims in 2:27.05. Kosaki touched out less than a second later to place 14th with a time of 2:27.94.

McGahan completed the men's 200 butterfly in 2:26.74. He placed 16th during the preliminary round.

Laura Coddington (So., Seaside, OR/Seaside HS) narrowly missed a berth in the Consolation finals of the 200 backstroke. Her time was 2:28.00, just 0.20 behind Melissa Greenaway of Linfield College, who claimed the final spot in the "B" Finals. Coddington was 17th in the prelims and is the first alternate for the "B" Finals tonight.

Jenna Larrow (Sr., Boise, ID/Timberline HS) and Hanna Connett (Jr., Pullman, WA/Pullman HS) competed in the 1,650-yard freestyle. Larrow's time was 18:48.66. Connett finished the race in 19:27.94. McGahan registered a time of 19:59.31 in the men's 1,650-yard freestyle. Placings in the 1,650 races will not be determined until the remaining heats are completed tonight.

NWC Swimming Championships
King Country Aquatic Center
Federal Way, Wash.
Feb. 12-14, 2010
Gwen Schulze achieved a time of 2:14.23 in the 200 backstroke prelims and will compete in the Championship Finals.

Gwen Schulze achieved a time of 2:14.23 in the 200 backstroke prelims and will compete in the Championship Finals.