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

The Daily Northwestern

51° Evanston, IL
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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Men’s Swimming: Tyler, Butler push each other in friendly competition

When sophomore Nathan Butler pulled into the wall with a first-place finish and season-best time in the 100-yard breaststroke against Iowa last weekend, junior Alex Tyler had a reason to be nervous.

Tyler and Butler have led Northwestern’s breaststroke crew all season, with Tyler at the helm in terms of experience and speed. But Butler’s performance in the 100-yard breaststroke last weekend edged Tyler out of the season-best time by .56 of a second.

‘Nathan’s (times) really scared me a little bit these past two meets because he has definitely stepped it up,’ said Tyler, who formerly held the record in the 100-yard breaststroke. ‘I got a little bit worried that he was trying to take over the leadership role, but it’s also really great because we can push each other now.’

Tyler and Butler are now evenly split for top times. Tyler holds the season-best time in the 200-yard breaststroke and is a close second to Butler in the 100-yard event. The up-and-coming sophomore is not far behind Tyler in the 200-yard breaststroke. Both swimmers will have one more chance before the Big Ten Championships in February to claim breaststroke dominance when NU travels to Columbus, Ohio., for a tri-meet against No. 9 Ohio State, No. 7 Michigan and Penn State this weekend.

‘They’re both great swimmers, but they train very differently,’ coach Jarod Schroeder said. ‘Alex has been a bit more of a better trainer, but a lot of that has to do with the extra year of training and experience that he has over Nathan. But now we’re really starting to see Nathan coming around and pushing himself to get these fast times.’

Butler’s first surge came two weeks ago at NU’s home double dual meet against Carthage and Lewis. His time in the 200-yard breaststroke slipped him into second place behind Tyler on the season-best list. Tyler, who also holds the season record and an undefeated streak in the 200-yard individual medley, set both of his best times in the breaststroke at the TYR Invitational in November.

‘In practice Alex is a whole lot better in the 200 (breaststroke), so I try to pick up on things from him, instead of just focusing on my 100 time,’ Butler said. ‘I’m at a point in my training now where I want to go best in the 100 and a season-best time in the 200 this weekend.’

The Cats will need strong performances from both swimmers this weekend as they face their toughest Big Ten competition of the season. The Wolverines and the Buckeyes both rank in the top-10 and are undefeated in conference competition. NU’s best chance for a win will be its matchup against fellow middle-tier team Penn State.

Schroeder said the Cats will evaluate the meet’s success by how individual swimmers perform at a high-pressure competition, rather than whether the team wins or loses. ‘This will be a great opportunity for our top guys, like Alex and Sean (Mathews), to see how they stack up against the best of the best,’ Schroeder said. ‘Regardless of the outcome, if our guys are continuing to swim faster every meet then we are ultimately going to be ready for Big Tens.’

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Men’s Swimming: Tyler, Butler push each other in friendly competition