Swimming: Twinbill triumph gets Cats off to strong start

Kevin Trahan

The Northwestern men’s and women’s swimming teams both opened their seasons with wins on Friday in road meets against Eastern Michigan and Illinois, respectively.

The men defeated the Eagles 165-130 and the women defeated the Fighting Illini 199-101.

Men’s coach Jarod Schroeder said he was happy with his team’s performance against perennial powerhouse Eastern Michigan, which has won 10 of the last 12 Mid-American Conference championships.

“It was good first meet of season for us,” he said. “Timewise, we’re not where need to be in terms of what end result was, but in terms of racing, we did good job of racing.”

Schroeder said he was impressed with the way the seniors stepped up for the Wildcats. Jake Grosser helped lead a young squad to victory in the 200 medley relay and also won the 50 free, John Frutiger took home the 200 free and Tony Mattar finished first in a one-two NU sweep of the 200 fly.

“Our seniors won five out of the 12 events that we won today, so that was good,” Schroeder said. “We only have three seniors so those were pretty good numbers.”

Co-captain and junior Charlie Rimkus said he was also excited about the potential the freshmen showed.

“We brought in some great freshmen and they’re all stepping up,” he said.

Rimkus put forth a spectacular performance of his own, winning the 1,000 free by nearly12 seconds. He said he was excited NU was able to come away with the win and gain momentum early in the season, but recognized he and his team still have work to do if they want to compete in the Big Ten.

“It’s always good to get the cobwebs off and I’m glad we could come away with the win, too,” Rimkus said. “(We need to continue) to take steps forward in practice. There are obvious things each of us needs to work on and all of us know what those are.”

NU will begin its Big Ten season in two weeks with a match-up against Purdue.

Schroeder said he is aware that his team will need to be much sharper for that meet, as Purdue beat NU 193-107 last season en route to a fifth-place finish in the Big Ten.

“Purdue will be a big test,” he said. “They’ve got great diving there, typically some of best divers in country. That does present a little bit of a challenge for us. We could go into swimming portion of it typically behind 26 points.”

While the men will be searching for their first conference win of the year against the Boilermakers, the women’s team already has a Big Ten win with its defeat of Illinois.

“There is certainly a long way to go and a lot we can do to improve,” coach Jimmy Tierney said, “but for the first meet of the year, and a conference and instate rival, we were pleased to come out with a win and a decisive win for Northwestern athletics.”

The Cats were aided by strong showings from both their upperclassmen and freshmen.

“We think we have a lot of great leaders in our senior class,” Tierney said. “I’m pleased with how the freshmen responded, too. It was their first dual meet, so I’m sure they were a bit nervous. Their attitude was good and they came ready to race, so that was a good sign for me.”

Senior Hannah Points spurred on her teammates with wins in the 200 fly, the 200 breast and the 400 individual medley, while junior Felicitas Lenz led the way on the diving boards.

The Cats will continue to improve their conditioning and technique with big conference meets looming in November, but Tierney was happy with the win and overall strong showing.

“We were pretty pleased,” he said. “We went down there to race and compete hard, and well, for the most part, we got our hand on the wall in close races.”

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