Swimming: Underclassmen fuel men’s, women’s teams at Indiana

Coley Harvey

Two weeks ago, freshman swimmer Andrea Hupman exerted too much energy in the opening leg of the 200-yard freestyle.

“Last meet, I went out fast early and died,” she said. “This meet, I wanted to pace myself better and race smart.”

Against Indiana on Friday, Hupman paced herself, notching her personal-best time on her way to winning the event.

“Two lifetime-best times this early in the season is amazing,” NU women’s swimming coach Jimmy Tierney said. “Usually this early in the season, swimmers don’t have their best times because they are sore and are trying to get back into shape.”

Still, Hupman helped power the Cats to a 159-141 victory over No. 21 Indiana in Bloomington, Ind.

Tierney said his team’s performance and attitude impressed him.

“One of our goals was to be a team,” he said. “That meant working with each other and supporting each other. We did a great job of that — there was a lot of spirit and a lot of energy.”

“Everyone tries to stay really positive and keep it fun,” Hupman said. “Some of us were in the Olympic trials, so we still know what intense swimming is all about.”

The 14th-ranked men’s team did not fare as well. Despite capturing wins in several individual events and relays, the Cats lost to No. 13 Indiana, 179-129.

Sophomores Matt Grevers and Mike Alexandrov turned in impressive individual performances, men’s coach Bob Groseth said.

Grevers had back-to-back wins in the 100-yard freestyle and 200-yard backstroke. He also won the 200-yard freestyle and was a part of NU’s first-place team in the 200-yard medley relay — a team that is among the top squads in the country, Groseth said.

Alexandrov, another swimmer in the 200-yard medley relay, won the 200-yard breaststroke, beating defending Big Ten champion Kevin Swander of Indiana by nearly two seconds. He also won the 200-yard individual medley.

“Generally, the team swam pretty well,” Groseth said of his team, which features nine freshmen. “We have a young team, and with a team this young, you never really know how well they will compete when they travel for the first time.”

Youth was not as much of a factor for Tierney’s team. For the third-consecutive meet, the freshmen women exceeded his expectations, the coach said.

Freshman Katie Braun finished second in the 200-yard butterfly to NU senior Christy Olin, while Hupman won both the 100- and 200-yard freestyles and finished second in the 50-yard freestyle.

Hupman’s early-season performances have been a pleasant surprise for Tierney.

According to Tierney, Hupman’s speed in the water helped “fire up” the team.

Sophomore Leanne Dumais’ performance in the 3-meter dive also contributed to the team’s victory. In addition to winning the event by nearly five points, she beat what Tierney called one of the top diving programs in the country.

Since the NCAA does not conduct official polls during the season to rank teams, the rankings teams use are based on polls of the College Swim Coaches Association of America.

Both NU teams face two more ranked programs this weekend when No. 23 Purdue and No. 10 Wisconsin compete in Evanston on Friday and Saturday.

Tierney, who said his team will be facing two tough opponents, challenged his swimmers “to continue to let the country know that we’re moving back up in the rankings.”

Reach Coley Harvey at [email protected]