Men’s Swimming: Northwestern edges Western Kentucky, gets outdone by Purdue


Kai Huang/The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern, led by Charlie Rimkus, won both its matches Friday. Despite the score, coach Jarod Schroeder said the match was tightly contested.

John Paschall, Reporter

Senior Charlie Rimkus was ticked off.

The co-captain had been out-touched by 0.09 seconds against Western Kentucky junior Heitor Rodrigues in the 200-meter butterfly because of a simple error.

“It was all on me,” Rimkus said. “To chop the stroke at the end was inexcusable.”

So when the 6-foot-3-inch senior got up on the blocks for the 500-meter freestyle with Western Kentucky leading Northwestern by 3 points, there was no way he could stand to lose again.

After the first 300 meters, Rimkus was keeping pace with opponent Loui Little, who was in second place, a few seconds behind NU freshman Jordan Wilimovsky. The race was at its grueling point. Rimkus had already swum 1,200 meters in the meet and had only had four events to recover from his last race.

But Rimkus had something to prove to himself and his team.

The last 200 meters saw him drop time in each of the next four laps, including a near full second difference from the 300 to 350 meter mark. As the race wore on, Rimkus got stronger. Not only did he beat a fading Little, but he also caught up to and beat Wilimovsky. NU finished the meet beating Western Kentucky 143.5 to 133.5 before the Wildcats routed University of Illinois-Chicago 197-83 the same day.

The Cats’ struggles early in the year can be traced back to one bad race leading to another. Rimkus said it was important to lead by example and show his team how to rebound after a bad swim.

“As captain, people will look to see what I do afterwards,” Rimkus said. “It’s okay to be a little pissed off afterward. You have to get back up and brush it off.”

Senior Alex Ratajczyk said he saw a tremendous difference in last week’s team compared to the team that swam this weekend.’

“We knew we had to change our attitude completely,” Ratajczyk said. “We could see right from the start in the meeting before the meet that we were so excited and pumped up. We focused on having fun and not as much about our times.”

The following day, the Cats welcomed No. 18 Purdue, which came to Evanston off a narrow loss to Notre Dame the night before.

The Boilermakers earned a decisive 172-126 victory. Still, NU coach Jarod Schroeder said he thought his group made a statement.

“We won a lot of events today,” Schroeder said. “(Purdue was) kind of surprised with how well we did. Diving saved them. Not having two of our swimmers helped them out quite a bit. Our guys did a really, really good job with keeping their emotions high.”

NU had a glimmer of hope heading into the second half of the Purdue meet. Schroeder made a quick line-up change, putting Rimkus into the 200 individual medley race and taking him out of the 500 free. Schroeder’s plan almost worked, but Wilimovsky was out-touched in 500-meter free by .03 seconds. Rimkus went on to convincingly win the 200 IM.

The schedule does not get easier for the Cats as they travel to Wisconsin this week to take on the Badgers. Schroeder said he believes NU will be better prepared mentally heading into Madison for reasons outside of the pool.

“We are coming off midterms,” Schroeder said. “These guys have been mentally spent for the past week or two. It’ll be good to be removed from that.”