Men’s Swimming: Wildcats look to wake up after opener stunner

John Paschall, Reporter

After a nightmarish meet again Eastern Michigan, the Wildcats are hoping to wake up when they dive into their home pool this weekend.

NU will face off against Western Kentucky and Illinois-Chicago on Friday and Big Ten foe Purdue on Saturday. The Cats have not beaten the Boilermakers since 2006.

“A lot of times you have to have a wake up call like that,” senior Charlie Rimkus said. “It can really be a blessing in disguise. We can try and start the season fresh and forget about that one.”

The keys to the Cats’ success could be their energy by the pool. Rimkus said he knows there needs to be a big change with the team out of the water.

“We are really trying to get each other going,” Rimkus said. “We have to get the energy level up on the pool deck. At Eastern, you could hear a pin drop. We weren’t really ready to race. But we are in the right mindset now and ready to pump each other up.”

Luckily for the Cats, the racing blocks were finally installed in the Norris Aquatics Center, which has seen major renovations. They have only had a few days with the blocks, but adding that minor yet key element to their training has helped the Cats speed up in the water.

The biggest hurdle for NU will be making sure it does not let a bad race snowball into a bad meet. Coach Jarod Schroeder said although it will be a difficult task, he hopes the Cats can be up to the challenge.

“We are dealing with 18- to 20-year-old guys here,” Schroeder said. “I hope they learned from the first meet. If something doesn’t go our way the first couple of events, instead of getting down on it, somebody takes it upon themselves to make up for that disappointing swim.”

Friday’s meet brings a Western Kentucky squad that, as Schroeder puts it, “isn’t coming up to Chicago to lose.” Last year the Hilltoppers knocked off a couple solid ACC squads in Georgia Tech and Clemson. The meet on Friday will have a little bit of a different schedule in that there will only be one relay during the meet, a move that could negatively affect the Cats. Schroeder said his swimmers will have to make up that ground in other strokes, and the meet will eventually come down to the swing events such as the 200 IM.

“There are going to be a lot of close races that could go either way,” Schroeder said. “We’ve got to win those races. If we don’t, we will find ourselves in a hole. If we do, we will be successful.”