Fatigued team runs out of gas, drops 2 meets (Women’s swimming)

Coley Harvey

Freshman Katie Braun said that mentally, the Northwestern women’s swimming team was prepared for the meets. Their bodies however, were not.

“Our bodies were definitely broken down after a three-hour flight and a long day of travel,” Braun said.

No. 23 NU dropped two meets this weekend to ranked opponents in Tucson, Ariz. No. 4 Arizona and No. 24 Washington swam with more intensity, more energy — and most importantly — more speed than the Cats.

NU lost to Arizona on Friday, 189.5 to 151.5, before being edged by Washington, 172.5 to 168.5.

“We had so many close races,” coach Jim Tierney said. “We just didn’t have the life to take advantage of the many opportunities we had.”

In two dual meets featuring several close races, NU fell to ranked opponents for the second and third time this season. The Cats last defeat to a ranked squad came more than two months ago against then No. 10 Wisconsin.

With two-day meets every weekend, it becomes very challenging to field a fresh team week in and week out.

“The travel affected us more than we expected,” Tierney said. “The team was more fatigued than we thought they would be.”

The dearth of life Tierney commented on has to do with the fatigue that has taken over his team. He added his team “wasn’t firing as normal all the way across the board.”

Even Andrea Hupman, the team’s standout freshman sprinter, appeared the most fatigued she’s been all year, Tierney said.

The impact of strenuous practices and a long trip to the Southwest made it difficult for the Cats to perform to keep pace with top-25 teams.

Entering Saturday’s competition, Arizona held a commanding 75-point lead lead over NU. Meanwhile, the Cats were tied with Washington at 74 points.

“The travel wore us down for the first day of the meet, but the second day of the meet we came back more prepared,” Braun said.

And they needed to be. Saturday’s meet versus Washington came down to the final race, the 400-yard freestyle relay. The four-woman team lost the event by .17 seconds.

Although the Cats didn’t execute the way they wanted, the team saw plenty of outstanding accomplishments.

On Saturday, sophomore Leanne Dumais won the 3-meter board competition against two Arizona divers. Senior Brielle Bovee also had a first-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:03.84); she won the 200-yard breaststroke in 2:17.01 the day before.

Even though several swimmers said they were more exhausted than normal, Tierney expressed pride in his freshman swimmers. For many of them, this is first time they have experienced something like the team’s exhaustive, annual winter training trip. This is also the first time they have swam meets against consistently good competition.

With fatigue as a glaring factor in the Cats’ double dual-meet loss this weekend, Tierney decided his team needed a break. On Monday, he gave them the day off.

As the Cats begin what Tierney calls the “Big Ten Prep Period,” they will start to fine tune their conditioning and quickness by reducing the yards they swim in practice. NU will look to continue training hard as its Big Ten season gets going again starting with a match-up with Illinois on Friday, and Michigan on Saturday.

Reach Coley Harvey at [email protected].