Men’s swimming: Auren, Wildcats ready for No. 25 Missouri

John Paschall

The Wildcats can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The grind that was the month of January is now almost over.

But how to describe a month in which they put a beat down on a Division II and a Division III opponent, won the majority of the individual races against arguably their biggest rival, and yet still lost the meet? How to describe getting smacked around by a top-15 squad at home but still managing to muster up season-best times?

“Bittersweet,” junior Charlie Rimkus said. “It’s been great to swim fast and keep improving. But at the same time you come to campus and people say, ‘Oh, how’d the meet go?’ Not everybody understands the ins and outs of the competition and what it means to do a good time and have a team or personal victory. It’s been hard to come back and say, ‘Oh, we lost,’ but there’s always the ‘but’ attached to it.”

The Cats welcome No. 25 Missouri and Denver to the Norris Aquatics Center for their last regular season meet of the year starting Friday.

One issue all season long for the Cats has been their lack of depth. But with this being a two-day dual meet, the advantage is clearly with NU. In a one-day dual meet, a team can put a swimmer in four events total, whether it be three individual events and a relay or two individual events and two relays. But now, coach Jarod Schroeder can afford to rest some of his stronger swimmers and put them in up to four individual events as well as unlimited relay events.

“I’d have to make a choice with some guys,” Schroeder said. “We would need them for both of our ‘A’ relays, so we could only put them in two other individual events. Now I can swim them in all five relays if I need to, and I can swim them in all four individual events. So they are going to get a lot of swimming this week.”

Schroeder said he’s now not faced with the challenge of choosing between putting forth NU’s best team for relays or winning individual events.

“I don’t have to make that decision with ‘either/or,'” Schoeder said. “I can go after both with this format.”

After coasting to two easy wins last week against Iowa, freshman Uula Auren, who is unbeaten this year in the 100-yard breaststroke, faces much stiffer competition this week in the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke against Missouri. Regardless of his best times being slower than two other Tigers, Auren does not anticipate losing this weekend.

“I can’t afford to lose,” Auren said. “One of the events Missouri is really deep in is the breaststroke. If I lose, we lose a lot of points, but I’ll take the challenge. I don’t think the times their guys have posted are anything I couldn’t do.”

Schroeder noted that though this is a big week for Auren to prove himself against top competition, it is business as usual for the freshman from Finland.

“It’s hard to tell,” Schroeder said of any noticeable difference in Auren’s approach this week. “I don’t know if it’s his Finnish background or what, but he’s a pretty laid back guy. He smiles a lot but when it comes down to it, he’s a pretty intense racer, and he focuses when he needs to.”

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