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

The Daily Northwestern

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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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Women’s Swimming: No. 24 Northwestern finishes 8th at Big Ten Championships

Seventeen season-best performances and 23 ‘B’ standard qualifying times highlighted No. 24 Northwestern’s otherwise-unspectacular finish in the Big Ten Championships. The Wildcats came in eighth in West Lafayette, Ind., a disappointing result.

“(The tournament) was probably slightly different than what we expected,” coach Jimmy Tierney said. “It wasn’t the higher level of performances that we were expecting.”

The Cats entered the tournament ranked seventh among Big Ten schools in the latest CSCAA poll. But four days of competition from Feb. 17-21 reshuffled the pack, and unranked Penn State beat out NU for seventh place.

No. 12 Indiana won its third Big Ten title in four years with 758 points, finishing 185.5 points ahead of No. 10 Minnesota.

The Cats started the tournament with a pair of season-best and ‘B’ standard qualifying swims in the 800-yard freestyle and 200-yard medley relays. Ellen Grigg, Emily Wong, Kassia Shishkoff and Meredith King took sixth in the 800-yard freestyle with a time of 7:11.34, the second-quickest in NU history.

Shishkoff’s split of 1:45.63 was the fastest in the field but, despite her strong performance, the Cats ended the evening in seventh.

“We got a slower start than we anticipated,” Tierney said. “We certainly got better as the week went on.”

In the next three days, NU set season-best times for all but two of the 19 events. Involved in five of those races, Shishkoff set career-best times in the 200-yard freestyle and 200-yard butterfly that placed third and fourth, respectively, in NU’s all-time records. Shishkoff ended the tournament as NU’s top point scorer.

“Probably her best individual performance was the 200 fly,” Tierney said. “She also was significant on the two relays. She had a couple of good swims. I know she wasn’t happy with the 200 free, but it was certainly a good week for her.”

Wong, a senior, finished eighth in the 50-yard freestyle and 10th in the 100-yard freestyle, falling short of her pre-tournament rankings. Wong entered the tournament seeded second in the 50-yard freestyle and third in the 100-yard freestyle.

Before the competition, Wong hadn’t lost a single 100-yard freestyle race all season.

And though Wong recorded a season-best 49.81 time in the 100-yard freestyle preliminaries, she missed out on the final by a hundredth of a second.

“We thought she was going to be able to do a little bit better,” Tierney said. “I’m not sure she was feeling as great as we were hoping she would feel. She was pretty fatigued during the week but still performed at a pretty high level. She certainly was strong for us in the relays.”

In addition to the opening night relay, Wong swam in three relays that finished fifth. The swims in the 200-yard freestyle and 400-yard medley relays were NU’s fifth best times, while the 400-yard freestyle relay was second-best in school history.

Like Shishkoff and Wong, senior Genny Szymanski posted a season-best time of 1:57.26 in the 200-yard backstroke, making the ‘B’ cut for the event.

“I was happy with it,” Szymanski said. “I don’t know if I could’ve done better. It was a good race for me.”

She said she and her teammates are still not certain whether they will make it to the NCAA Championships next month. Since no NU swimmer managed ‘A’ standard times, the Cats face an anxious wait as the results from other conferences come in.

Before the Big Ten Championships, Tierney mentioned those on the brink of qualification could compete in a “last-chance meet” to squeeze out better times. After the tournament, he announced the swimmers who have a chance of making the NCAAs will travel to Columbus, Ohio.

“We’re still probably sitting a bit on the outside,” Tierney said of the swimmers’ chances of making Nationals. “We’re going to take the athletes down to Ohio State this Sunday to pull down the time.”

On the diving platform, freshman Felicitas Lenz scored 12th on the 1-meter and 10th on the 3-meter platforms. The two-time Big Ten Diver of the Week then finished fifth on the platform dive, giving a performance Tierney described as “thrilling.”

Unlike the swimmers, Lenz will compete in a zone meet that will decide whether she makes it to the NCAA Championships.

“Hopefully she’s gained confidence from this week and she’ll give it her best shot,” Tierney said.

Last week, Tierney said the Big Ten meet would be spirited and it proved so. Senior Rachel Rys, who has struggled with foot injuries in her NU career, swam a career-best time of 1:59.78 in the 200-yard butterfly preliminaries, good for a ‘B’ cut qualifying time.”It was a really inspiring race for all of us,” co-captain Szymanski said.

Though Shishkoff would better Rys’s time by 1:58.92 in the finals that evening, Szymanski said that Rys’s swim was the highlight of the tournament and brought tears to many of her teammates.

“Rachel has had a string of injuries and hasn’t been able to train much but she got a lifetime-best time,” Tierney said. “That was outstanding because it shows the tremendous amount of character.”[email protected]

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Women’s Swimming: No. 24 Northwestern finishes 8th at Big Ten Championships