Women’s Swimming: Michigan, Notre Dame glide by Northwestern in dual meet sweep

Anna Kottenstette, Reporter

No. 24 Michigan and No. 21 Notre Dame proved to be too much for Northwestern to handle as the Wildcats fell to the Wolverines and Fighting Irish 192-108 and 205-95 in decisive losses Saturday. Although coach Jimmy Tierney entered the dual meet with high expectations and a plan to out-touch the Fighting Irish and Wolverines in several events, the Cats won only three.

Tierney suspects the women are still “hanging a little low physically from the training they did over break,” but also admits that it sometimes takes a weekend to get back into a competitive mindset. Although the scoreboard did not show it, the Cats swam faster in half the races against both teams than they did last year.

“It just so happens that the other teams got faster, too,” Tierney added. “We were competitive, but you just have to find a way to put your hand on the wall when you’re in those tight swims, and we had a hard time with that.”

Only one NU swimmer, senior Taylor Reynolds, was successful in out-touching her opponent. Reynolds finished first in the 50-yard freestyle by a margin of only one-tenth of a second.

Freshman Ellen Anderson also gave the Cats much-needed points by winning the 1,000-meter freestyle with a season-best time. Not only did Anderson swim 10.14 seconds faster than she has in the event all season, but she also swam nearly 10 seconds faster than her ranked competitors.

Although seemingly saturated with young potential, the Cats have also been riddled with injury this year. Saturday marked the first race back for junior Jackie Powell and only the second active meet in the season for senior diver Felicitas Lenz.

Powell worked her way back to solid 4th place finishes in both the 100 and the 200 free, as well as a 2nd-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay.

“Last year at this time, she was only about a second faster in the 200 free, so for being out a month, that’s not too far off. If she had been a second faster she would have been close to winning the event,” Tierney said.

Lenz was untouchable off the three-meter springboard, winning the event by 17.60 points and earning NU a season-best score of 314.90 points. She was followed by her sister, junior Cosima Lenz, who scored 297.30 points for a second place finish. Felicitas Lenz also scored a season-best for her 2nd-place finish off the one-meter springboard with a score of 302.10.

Despite the return of Lenz and Powell, NU is just beginning to feel the pain of losing promising freshman Shelly Patton to a season-ending injury that leaves obvious gaps in their roster.

“It’s not like you can plug a football or basketball player in and they can still play good defense,” Tierney said. “You can’t make a swimmer go a couple seconds faster just because someone else is gone. Hopefully people fill in and hopefully they raise their level up in the coming weeks.”

With the next two weeks off, the Cats will be in the pool fine-tuning their performances and preparing for their upcoming meet against Iowa. Though certainly unhappy with the loss, Tierney remains optimistic about his team’s capabilities heading into the remainder of the season.

“You can’t walk away from a loss happy by any means,” Tierney said. “But I’m not worried. We’re just looking ahead now.”