OLYMPIA, WA -- (From Nick Dawson - PLU SID) Puget Sound won its fifth consecutive women's team crown and Whitworth took its first men's conference title since 1996 as the 2001 Northwest Conference Swimming Championships came to a close Saturday night at College Recreation Center Pool on the campus of The Evergreen State College.

Puget Sound took the lead in the women's competition during Thursday's opening night and steadily pulled away over the next two days. The Loggers finished with 797.5 points, followed by Whitworth with 680.5. Rounding out the women's team scores were Linfield with 444, Willamette with 344.5, Pacific Lutheran with 332.5, Whitman with 320 and Lewis & Clark with 165.

The men's meet was close throughout the three days of competition. Whitworth, tied with Puget Sound after the first day, broke away to a 30-point lead over the Loggers entering a Saturday night slate of six finals. Puget Sound slowly whittled away at the Pirates and trailed by 13.5 points entering the 400 freestyle relay. Whitworth closed out the win, however, by taking the event in a time of 3:12.49. Whitworth scored 613 points compared to 589.5 for Puget Sound. Rounding out the team scores were Linfield with 527, Pacific Lutheran with 475, Willamette with 429, Whitman with 251.5 and Lewis & Clark with 94.

Whitworth sophomore Katie King earned the Female Swimmer of the Meet award by winning three events. After taking the 500 freestyle on Thursday and the 200 freestyle on Friday, she blitzed the field by more than five seconds in winning the 200 butterfly in a time of 2:11.45.

The Male Swimmer of the Meet award went to another sophomore, Willamette's Brady Childs, who exactly matched King's effort with wins in the 500 freestyle, 200 freestyle and 200 butterfly. The final of those wins came on Saturday night as Childs clocked 1:55.08 to win by more than two seconds.

One women's meet record was tied on Saturday as Megan Haley won the 200 backstroke in a time of 2:10.06. Her performance equaled the record set by Linfield's Beth Slaughter in 1995.

Puget Sound's Mari Gantner, who won the 50 freestyle on Thursday, took the 100 freestyle title on Saturday in a time of 54.18. Linfield's Aven Pendleton was also a double event winner during the meet. She matched her 100 breaststroke win on Friday with a Saturday night victory in the 200 breaststroke in a time of 2:27.51.

Cate Reynolds of Puget Sound won the other Saturday individual event final, the 1650 freestyle, in a time of 18:31.36. Puget Sound closed out their team win by taking the final event, the 400 freestyle relay, in a time of 3:36.34.

On the men's side, Whitworth swimmers Troy Schuknecht and Kevin Wang both set new meet records. Schuknecht, a junior, established a new record in the 200 breaststroke, clocking 2:07.15 in the preliminaries to beat the old mark of 2:07.77 by John Rasmussen of Whitworth in 1997. Schuknecht came back to win the event on Saturday night in a time of 2:07.76.

Wang, just a freshman, shattered the one-year-old 1650 freestyle record of 16:11.66 by blitzing to a 16:02.69 time. Ben Swineherd of Whitworth formerly held the record. Wang's mark was also an automatic qualifying time for the NCAA Division III national meet in Buffalo, NY.

Whitman senior Tucker Jackson was victorious in the 100 freestyle in a time of 47.23, wrapping up his sweep of the men's freestyle sprints. The other men's event winner on Saturday night was Puget Sound's Andrew Caruthers in the 200 backstroke in a time of 1:54.53.

- NWC -