Men’s Swimming: Northwestern focused on final meet before Big Tens

Tyler Kendall, Reporter

Men’s Swimming

Northwestern will head to Minneapolis, Minnesota, this weekend for a two-day competition against Minnesota and Purdue. Coming off a recent loss to Iowa, the Wildcats are facing other troubles before the meet on the road.

“We’ve had a lot of sickness this week and the flu bug seems to be going around the team,” coach Jarod Schroeder said. “We have a couple of our top guys who have been out a few days of training and are just getting back into it so hopefully there’s enough time for them to recover before the weekend.”

Despite some illness, NU (7-4, 0-3 Big Ten) is ready to start racing in what will be the last meet before Big Ten Championships in late February.

“Minnesota and Purdue are usually somewhere in the top and middle of the pack at Big Tens, so they are two really good teams,” Schroeder said. “It’s a fast pool and it is a great setting for our guys and the competition is going to be high.”

The rankings back this up, as Minnesota (4-3, 1-1) is No. 23 in the country. Then-No. 22 Purdue beat NU last season 231-69, proving this weekend will be no easy competition for the Cats.

NU can take solace in its most recent performance though. While a 171-129 loss to No. 19 Iowa didn’t appear all that memorable, junior Jordan Wilimovsky noted that the meet was a lot closer than it seemed. The competition was on the road, and the team felt many of the competitors swam admirably in the contest.

Another factor in NU’s favor is the longer, two-day structure of this weekend’s meet with competition starting at 5 p.m. on Friday and noon on Saturday.

“It will be good for us to swim in a two-day format because it gives us a little more rest,” Schroeder said. “We’re a small team so when you do the 16-event order all in one session, a lot of our top guys are pretty tired by the end of it. By spreading out the events, hopefully they are a little more fresh on Saturday.”

NU is also relying on top performances from the diving and freestyle events, since both did well last weekend and pulled in crucial points for the Cats against the Hawkeyes. Included in this is Wilimovsky, who will go into this weekend’s races as No. 1 in the Big Ten and No. 3 in the nation for the 1650-yard freestyle.

Wilimovsky was one of the swimmers who came down with the team flu, as he missed practice — for the first time Schroeder can remember — earlier this week fighting off the illness.

He seems just as prepared as ever though, for Minnesota and Purdue.

“(This meet) is another opportunity to race and I’m still in heavy training right now,” Wilimovsky said. “So I’ll go out there and see if I can get a season best and execute on the stuff I’ve been working on in practice.”

While Big Tens titles might be the ultimate goal, NU is still focusing on the meet this weekend.

“We’re trying to keep our eyes on the prize at the end of the season certainly,” junior captain Van Donkersgoed said. “In this time we have between this last dual meet and Iowa and Big Tens, we don’t want to get unfocused and what not and get lazy.”

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