Men, women’s swimming set to host meets against Spartans

Make way for the Spartans. The Northwestern men’s and women’s swimming teams kick off the winter Big Ten season today by hosting dual meets against Michigan State at 5 p.m.

The men’s squad (2-2, 1-1 Big Ten) also will take on Eastern Michigan and Illinois-Chicago Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.

“We’re not looking past our competition because there should be some great one-on-one match-ups, but we feel like we have a good shot at setting a few pool records,” NU men’s coach Bob Groseth said. “Our best shot will probably be in the 400 medley relay and 200 free relay.”

Freshman Matt Grevers, junior Louis Torres, and seniors Mark Hamming and Tony Swanson likely will make up the 400 medley relay team, which boasts the sixth-fastest time in the nation at 3:16.20.

On the women’s side, the Wildcats have (2-4, 0-3) suffered three straight losses to Big Ten opponents earlier in the year, but they aren’t dwelling on their losing streak.

“I think we focus more on winning or not winning, whatever teams they are, Big Ten or not Big Ten,” NU women’s coach Jimmy Tierney said.

Also, the proximity of Michigan State to Northwestern adds another dimension to the competition.

“Anytime you have athletes you’re familiar with competition-wise, it creates more excitement,” Tierney said. “Swimmers in the Midwest tend to know each other well. It adds a little bit more of a personal touch.”

Michigan State’s women’s team has seen strong results this season from sophomore Rachel Hagerman and Tammy Jones. They both captured individual victories last year as the Spartans beat NU, 114-109.

“Our distance swimmers need to flex their muscles and it’s time for our stroke group to raise their level as well,” Tierney said. “The format we are swimming is in MSU’s favor. We’re swimming a lot of the shorter events but that’s OK because that’s a challenge for us and we need to be ready for those events for the championships.”

— Michael Griffin and Paul Tenorio