Men’s Swimming: Consistent Wildcats don their speed suits at TYR Invitational

John Paschall, Assistant Gameday Editor

At this point in the season last year, Northwestern struggled to find consistency, suffering three losses and recording only two wins, which happened on the same day. Entering this Friday’s TYR Invitational, the Wildcats have been steady, totaling five victories and having only one awful day of racing, resulting in two losses.

It may be baby steps for the program, but it’s still a sign the team is heading in the right direction.

“I think they’re starting to figure things out a little bit,” coach Jarod Schroeder said. “They’re understanding just what it means to be a team and how supporting each other can benefit them in an individual sport. But we still have a long way to go.”

Senior Chase Stephens said he has noticed a big difference in the program since he arrived as a freshman.

“We are definitely starting to create a mature team,” the freestyler said. “We’ve been really pushing toward a team atmosphere. We’ve laid down the groundwork to have success in the future, and that’s starting to be seen now.”

A big part of the team’s success has come from the underclassmen. Eleven swimmers on the team are either sophomores or freshmen. Senior captain Tim Smith said he has not been too surprised by the immediate impression because of their attitude coming into this year and the guidance the coaches and upperclassmen have provided.

“This freshman class is really excited to make their impact and get right into it,” Smith said. “They’ve done a great job from the start. They’re ready to get right in there and race.”

NU has dominated the TYR Invitational as of late. Since 2008, the Cats have not finished worse than second place at the annual meet. Schroeder said the positive results are attributable to a combination of reasons.

“Being at home is always good,” he said. “It’s a halfway point in the season and good measuring stick to see where we are at. Guys get psyched up for preliminaries/finals format, where they can put themselves in a championship meet format.”

Schroeder also noted that though the team usually excels in the evening session, the morning swims are going to be a big focus for the Cats.

Not only is NU hoping to go off to its training trip in Hawaii as winners, but the team is also hoping to rack up some NCAA cut times in order to qualify for the NCAA Championships. One element that will help the Cats is wearing their fast swimsuits for the meet. Stephens said those suits give the swimmers a mental boost.

“I don’t know why, I don’t know how, but it just does,” Stephens said. “You really do get jacked up for that. Those ‘B’ cuts are going to be a good thing to get, but I think a better feeling will be getting those pool records all around. I’m really looking forward to put our print on the pool record board.”

The swimmers admitted there will be plenty of friendly competition going on over who can get the most NCAA ‘B’ cuts or pool records. The one race Smith looks forward to is ‘The Lumberjack Classic’, a 50-yard backstroke event between a couple of freestylers, Stephens and senior Matt Wilcox.

“They’ve gone back and forth for the past two years,” Smith said. “They call it the Lumberjack Classic because they’re both from the Minnesota and Wisconsin areas.”

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