Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Barbic Finds A Home In Evanston (Men’s Swimming)

By Brian ReganThe Daily Northwestern

After feeling underappreciated and disillusioned at the end of his sophomore season, junior Bruno Barbic decided to transfer from the University of Washington. The All-American freestyler needed a program that would have a less hands-on approach so he could work on details, as well as one with swimmers that complemented him.

“I looked for a faster environment,” Barbic said, “and a group of guys that would help me improve and push me daily. I think I found it here.”

Barbic, who left his native country of Croatia two years before, was on his way to Northwestern for a chance to compete for a national title and a fresh start.

Now his teammates are the ones starting to get excited.

“He really fires up the team,” senior Mike Alexandrov said. “And we needed a guy to swim the freestyle leg of the (200-yard individual medley) relay.”

Barbic will anchor the relay comprising All-Americans Alexandrov, Matt Grevers and Kyle Bubolz, which last year finished fourth at the NCAA meet without Barbic.

With Barbic now on their side, the Wildcats are much more confident in their chances to win the relay.

“The past two years we have had the lead going into the freestyle leg,” coach Bob Groseth said. “Our swimmers swam their best, but it wasn’t good enough to win. With Bruno, they think ‘we can actually win the relay.'”

Barbic’s seriousness is another gauge on how focused he his on winning in March, which helps him get along with Groseth and his teammates.

From the weight room to the pool, the team is glad for the added intensity Barbic brings to the table.

“Maybe we are putting a lot of weight on his shoulders,” Grevers said. “But we are letting him know that we are confident in him.”

The confidence stems from his 13th and 20th place finishes in the 50- and 100-yard free, respectively, at last year’s NCAA meet.

Of course adding another star to the mix in some places makes egos clash, but so far it has been smooth sailing.

“The only time our egos manifest is in practice,” Barbic said. “And that only makes us better and we all realize that we are all really fast individually, but can come together to make a better team.”

When Barbic was choosing schools, NU’s history of Croatian basketball players was an extra bonus.

Barbic knew the three current men’s basketball players before he joined the Cats, but said he has little time to spend with them due to their busy schedules.

But come March, his countrymen will be able to see the now content Barbic go for NCAA gold.

“The (team is) getting really excited at the chance of winning the relay or relays at NCAA’s and to maybe break the American record,” Barbic said. “We have a pretty good chance of getting it together and I’m glad I feel what I do now is appreciated.”

Reach Brian Regan at [email protected].

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Barbic Finds A Home In Evanston (Men’s Swimming)