Teams take different approaches to season-openers

David Osborne

This weekend marks the end of the preseason for both Northwestern’s men’s and women’s swimming teams.

The men’s team opens up its 2001-02 dual-meet season with an away meet today at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“This will be more of a meet to give our freshmen a chance to see what they can do in their first college meet,” said men’s coach Bob Groseth of the team’s opening meet today. “We’re not going to put the older guys in their main events. I am hoping to see the general fitness level of the team.”

While the team is not expecting a close meet, the competition is still welcome.

“We’ve just got to learn how to race again and to get back together as a team,” junior Kellen O’Connor said. “It’s good to have some less-important meets now. This meet is obviously at the bottom of our list.”

Following a season marked by the setting of 10 new school records and a fifth-place finish at the 2001 Big Ten Championships, expectations are high for the men’s team.

“Ever since I’ve been here we’ve gotten better every year,” said O’Connor, who was one of three Wildcats to receive All-American honors last year. “This year we have a lot more experience. This is the first year we will probably be ranked nationally. We’re trying to build a name. We’re getting into the mainstream.”

Unlike the men’s team, the women’s team is not overlooking its season-opening competition. The team will be hosting Big Ten rival Indiana at 1 p.m. Saturday at Norris Aquatic Center.

“Indiana beat us last year, so we’re looking for revenge,” said Lauren Moore, a senior tri-captain who contributed to last year’s fourth-place Big Ten finish and 35th-place finish in the NCAA Championships. “We’ve been really eager to race these past weeks. This should be a very close meet. It may go down to the wire.”

First-year assistant coach Heather Johnston said she thought there was “a good competitive nature about the team.”

And she believed that the team was well-prepared for the meet.

“I think they’re excited to race,” Johnston said. “I think this meet will set the tone that we’re in a very good conference and there’s no letting up.”

In addition to the returning swimmers, Johnston also said she expected junior transfer Carmen Cosgrove, who came to NU from Nebraska, to make a big impact.

“Indiana had a jump start on us, because they started school much earlier,” Johnston said. “But I’ve been pleased with the fitness level of our team and their desire to win.”

Following season-opening competitions, both the men’s and women’s teams will be co-hosting the NU Relays. Four teams will be coming to the meet, which will begin at noon.

“The success of our season depends on our relays,” Groseth said. “If we can get some relays into the NCAAs, then we can get a chance to get some different guys to swim.”

Some swimmers are looking to the meet as a chance to compete in a less intense environment.

“We’ve won that meet for as long as I can remember,” Moore said. “But it’s a lot of fun.”