Daily file photo by Brian Lee
Northwestern spent 11 days over Winter Break in Honolulu for a training trip, where the team focused on gearing up for a difficult winter season. After a successful training session, coach Jarod Schroeder said he is excited to get competition started.
“As a whole, it was one of the best training trips that I ever experienced as a coach,” Schroeder said. “The training right now is at a higher level for the majority of our kids than it ever has been, so we’re hoping that bodes well for the second half of the season.”
The locale may have provided a relaxing background, but NU was there to work. Schroeder noted progression as a key factor in the team’s training goals.
“You go into a training camp like that where the goal is to do something you didn’t realize you could do before,” Schroeder said. “The more often you are able to do that throughout the course of the season as an athlete, the more confident you will be at the end of the season.”
The training trip also allowed for a renewed camaraderie among the athletes.
“It was good to have everyone down there where we do a bunch of team building activities,” junior Jordan Wilimovsky said. “Everyone did well, and in particular a lot of the guys that hadn’t been training at this level before really stepped it up.”
NU will head to Ann Arbor, Michigan this Saturday for a dual meet against Michigan and Notre Dame for the first competition since the training session in Hawaii.
And the schedule’s difficulty is apparent right away.
According to the most recent College Swimming Coaches Association of America top 25 poll, Michigan is ranked No. 6 in the country. And Wilimovsky admitted that the highly rated Wolverines are “kind of out of reach” to defeat.
If NU hopes to stand tall against this Big Ten foe, rust cannot be a factor. Schroeder said that getting a team back in competitive mode from the get go after a long break is never easy, but he doesn’t see any alarming signs from his own squad.
As for Notre Dame, last year NU battled the then-No. 20 Fighting Irish to a 150-150 tie. It was a thrilling meet that included a huge surge from the Cats in the final event of the contest.
Schroeder said he forsees a similar result this time around.
“Notre Dame is always a close meet for us,” he said. “Last year we tied them, and that’s hard and unique to do in a swimming setting.”
The Fighting Irish had a recent training trip as well and shouldn’t be lacking readiness as the team heads in for its tilt against NU.
Wilimovsky remembered the energy from last year’s competition against Notre Dame and is looking forward to racing this weekend.
“Last year (against Notre Dame), it was really cool watching from the stands,” Wilimovsky said. “It came down to the last relay and we had to go one, two, and we did it. Hopefully we’re going to go out there and beat them this year. I think we can do it if all our guys swim well.”
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