Swimming: Sickness, injuries lead to convincing defeats for Wildcats

Tyler Kendall, Reporter

Swimming and Diving

Northwestern men’s and women’s swimming teams suffered similar fates to Minnesota and Purdue this weekend.

The men’s team suffered tough losses against the No. 23 Golden Gophers, 250-103, and Boilermakers, 219-134, and the women’s team did not fare much better, falling to the two schools as well, 259-88 to No. 19 Minnesota and to 206-134 No. 16 Purdue.

The men’s team was on the road for the last competition before Big Tens in late February. NU will conclude the year with a winning record of 7-6, although they fall short with a 0-5 Big Ten record. The Cats had an illness going around the team as the weather took a turn for the worse in Evanston.

“We’re a little unhealthy right now, we’re trying to get back to full strength,” coach Jarod Schroeder said. “The flu bug has kind of gone through our team … It’s unfortunate because the last three meets of the season, we weren’t at full strength.”

Of those sick was junior Jordan Wilimovsky, who recently missed practice for the first time in the three years he’s been on the team, Schroeder said. Wilimovsky, who went into the competition as the No. 1 swimmer in the Big Ten in the 1,650-yard freestyle, placed fifth overall in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:35.14.

“It was a challenge, but teams go through that, every team could say something like that throughout their season,” Schroeder said. “And when that happens, we have to do a little bit of a better job rising to the occasion with some of these guys.”

The large margin of defeat belies some impressive weekend performance from NU.

“There was some pretty tough competition but we had some pretty good swims all around,” senior captain William Rosler said. “In particular Alex Snarski’s 200 back and (Almog) Olshtein’s 50 free were two of our better swims.”

Despite some tough losses, the Cats are still focusing their energy on the next three weeks and the Big Ten competition ahead. NU is one of the smallest teams competing in the tournament and will need its top swimmers to be in good shape to bring in some crucial points.

“The plan is to give them a lot of rest, get them healthy and get that confidence up,” Schroeder said. “We have our challenges at Big Tens, but I think some of our top end guys can do very well there and compete with some of the best guys in the best conference in the country.”

Women’s coach Jimmy Tierney was focused on bringing forth positives from the meet, in which the Cats fell to the Golden Gophers and Boilermakers by significant margins. He highlighted the performance of sophomore Lacey Locke, who won the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 1:58.67, which was a full three seconds ahead of the next closest competitor.

NU had to compete without divers due to injury and the team believes score was not reflective of its performance this past weekend.

“We’re just trying to get the speed out of them by resting and doing quick, explosive stuff in the coming weeks,” Tierney said. “Scores don’t indicate how competitive a meet it was. Our divers are injured and there’s nothing they can do about that, and giving those points to Minnesota, the defending champion, it’s not going to be pretty from the scoreboard side.”

The team will be focusing its strength on the relay teams in these coming weeks and Tierney is still waiting to “make the call” about who will be on the final teams for Big Tens.

“The medleys are pretty solid right now,” Tierney said. “There’s maybe some question in the 400 free relay, which is good because it means we have plenty of girls swimming fast and vying for those spots. I’m excited though, we haven’t had this kind of sprint depth in years.”

Kevin Casey contributed reporting.

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