NU teams dominate season opener (Swimming)

Coley Harvey

The Northwestern men’s and women’s swimming teams opened their seasons with commanding wins, leveling their competition in two meets this weekend at NU’s Norris Aquatics Center.

During Friday’s NU Invitational against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the men swept every event, and the women won all but one heat. On Sunday, the teams competed against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Illinois-Chicago at the NU Relays. Both squads sank the rest of the field, winning a combined 22 events.

NU men’s coach Bob Groseth said he was pleased with his team’s performance, including his nine freshman.

“Coming into the meet we just wanted to see our freshmen step up and swim fast times,” Groseth said. “I think for the most part they did.”

On the women’s side, the class of 2008 also had strong individual performances Friday, winning the 200-yard freestyle, 50-yard freestyle, 200-yard butterfly and 200-yard backstroke.

“This first weekend the freshman class rose up and really contributed to our success in a great way,” women’s coach Jimmy Tierney said.

The 1,000-yard freestyle also featured a freshman victory and was capped off by an intense battle that ended in a first-place tie by NU freshmen Laura Gart and Katie Braun.

Although Tierney was satisfied with his team’s success, he said the competition will soon get tougher. He said the Cats will prepare for their Big Ten slate, which begins in November, with rigorous practices for the next two weeks.

“It’s going to be challenging,” Tierney said. “We really want to toughen the team up so we can see how well they will respond in a couple of weeks.”

Groseth also expects an increasingly difficult schedule for his crew.

“This year we’re going to have to exercise some patience,” Groseth said. “We’re not going to be as consistent as we might want to be.”

But in stressing the importance of consistency during the Big Ten and NCAA Championships, he added, “In swimming, everything is predicated on how you do at the end.”

Last season, the men finished third in the Big Ten and 11th at the NCAA Championships. The women had a seventh-place Big Ten finish.

For about an hour during Friday’s meet, the pool looked more like a football game when four men with purple and white chests positioned themselves near the diving boards. The painted, shirtless men were members of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity and were there cheering on their brother, junior diver Mike Oxman.

“They come out and support me sometimes — it gets me a little more relaxed,” Oxman said.

He won both the one-meter and three-meter diving events Friday.

The divers have had relatively relaxed practices this year because of the late-starting school year, Oxman said.

“We’ve been doing mostly basics in practice since we had less time to prepare for this meet,” he said. “Right now we’re just trying to get our mechanics straight.

“At this point in the season, it’s not necessarily how you place.”

Reach Coley Harvey at [email protected]