Men’s Swimming: Cats prepared despite roster size discrepancy

Sarah Kuta

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Senior Adam Beckman will be swimming in his last conference meet for Northwestern this weekend, but instead of looking back on the season, Beckman can only look forward. With the Big Ten Championships just weeks away, Beckman has his sights set on proving himself one last time.

NU will face three highly ranked opponents this weekend, meeting Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion in Columbus, Ohio. The Wildcats (5-4, 0-4 Big Ten) plan to use this weekend’s meet as a tuneup to gauge their performance before the Big Ten Championships at the end of February.

Coach Bob Groseth said although the team hopes to do well this weekend, this meet is not an “end” meet.

“Dual meets are just stepping stones along the way,” Groseth said. “They’re a way for us to measure our training. Do we need more? Less?”

Groseth said that after this weekend, practice will be all about fine tuning.

“Our goal has always been to be the best performing team based on individuals and their potential,” Groseth said. “We will continue to do that.”

While NU will have only 14 healthy swimmers competing this weekend, each of the other teams has at least twice that amount. Ohio State will have 51, Penn State will have 33 and Michigan will have 31. Both swimmers and coaches recognize that such a discrepancy in roster size is a disadvantage.

“It will be a tough meet because we just don’t have the team depth,” assistant coach Jarod Schroeder said. “We want to turn heads with the quality of our guys and be competitive.”

Senior Eric Nilsson will be swimming against Michigan’s senior Matt Patton this weekend. Nilsson said the two go back and forth about who can win more races.

“I’m just hoping to get some good experience this weekend. We’re swimming against three really fast teams,” Nilsson said.

Beckman said that this meet is the transition point that marks the beginning of a rest phase before the championships. As with any conditioning sport, the team will enter into a rest period where workouts become shorter. Beckman said that at about a week and a half before the championships, the team will eliminate morning practices.

“Practice isn’t as intense,” Beckman said. “We work on getting better at the little things and start focusing more on technique.”

For both Beckman and Nilsson, this weekend’s meet marks the end of their conference swimming careers at NU.

“Dual meets are definitely a big part of swimming,” Nilsson said. “You have everyone working for the same goal. I will definitely miss it.”

Beckman, on the other hand, said he had mixed feelings.

“While it does signal an end to things like morning practices, I am going to be sad that I won’t be competing anymore,” Beckman said.

Although participating in his final conference meet will be bittersweet, Nilsson said he hoped this weekend’s dual would be a good end to the season.

“We’re all excited,” Nilsson said. “We have a small group, but we can still have a good meet.”