Women’s Swimming: Wildcats begin winter facing rival Wolverines, Fighting Irish

Tyler Kendall, Reporter

Women’s Swimming

Northwestern will travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan this Saturday for a dual meet against Michigan and Notre Dame — the Wildcats’ first competition of the new year.

The swimmers went to Boca Raton, Florida to train in a warm climate during Winter Break.

Coach Jimmy Tierney noted the goals of the training trip included enhancing physical performance and team bonding, especially between upperclassmen and freshmen athletes on the team.

“I thought it was a really fun training trip,” junior Julianne Kurke said. “I feel like the team was really close and we got a lot of good work done.”

Tierney highlighted sophomore Lacey Locke’s training performance throughout the season, as well as her work in the recent training trip. The coach said she has stepped up her workout level and is training at possibly the highest level in her life.

Camaraderie and Locke’s standout training were important developments, but the trip also allowed for a change of scenery for the Wildcats.

“Just being in Florida with the sunshine made it a lot better to train and be in a good mood, not that we aren’t always are, but it was fun to switch it up, be in hot weather, be in the sunshine and work toward a goal,” Locke said. “The training trip is the hardest part of our season because we do two swims a day, plus dry land, but the sunshine and the enthusiasm our team showed was awesome.”

The athletes plan to take what they learned on the trip to the meet this weekend against tough competition in Michigan, which, according to the most recent College Swimming Coaches Association of America top 25 poll, is ranked No. 8 in the country. The Wolverines are a rising squad with one of the country’s best freshman classes.

NU will also have to face Notre Dame, a team that is no slouch itself with a defending NCAA Champion in the 200-yard breaststroke.

Top it all off with heavy dose of rivalry and familiarity, and the Cats will be in for quite an opening ride.

“Michigan has always been a traditional rival since way back, and Notre Dame, since we picked them up a couple of years ago on our schedule again, it was a big deal back in the ’90s and early 2000s as well,” Tierney said. “So we’ve kind of renewed that rivalry over the last several years. It’s been good they’re relatively close, we recruit a lot of the same people so I know a lot of their athletes very, very well.”

NU is excited about starting up competition again after a hiatus. It helps to have a coach who is an excellent motivator.

“Jimmy is all about team and enthusiasm, he does a great job about getting us pumped up,” Locke said. “Being Northwestern, we are sometimes the underdog against some of the Big Ten schools, so he says, ‘everything is fair game,’ and I think that’s a great thing to live by.”

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