Swimming: Cats bring back alumni for exhibition


Tucker Johnson/The Daily Northwestern

Freshman Anthony Marcantonio competes in the 300-meter freestyle. Marcantonio is a part of a large freshman class for the men’s swimming and diving team that will need to quickly adjust to swimming at the collegiate level.

Tucker Johnson and Kara Stevick

Swimming and Diving

Northwestern’s swimming teams celebrated Homecoming weekend with their second annual Alumni Meet on Friday.

“It was really great to see some people I hadn’t seen for a long time and to meet some new people,” said women’s coach Abby Steketee (SESP ‘03).

The meet featured exhibition races between a team of previous NU swimmers in town for Homecoming against swimmers from the current men’s and women’s teams.

Don Goldstein (McCormick ‘68), was the oldest alumnus present. He finished the 50 yard breaststroke in 39.46 seconds and the 50 freestyle in 33.65 seconds.

“This is the first time I’ve been back for the swim meet,” Goldstein said. “I’d do it again, hopefully real soon.”

The exhibition meet presented athletes with the opportunity to swim in events that they normally do not participate in and featured a series of unconventional events, including the 300 freestyle, which proved to be one of the most thrilling races of the evening.

Freshman Carter Page was racing neck-and-neck with 2007 NU graduate, Olympian Mike Alexandrov, into the final wall. Alexandrov just out touched the freshman from Sarasota, Florida, in 2:38.73, with Page finishing half of a second behind.

Despite several other wins from Alexandrov, the men’s team beat its alumni 89-59 and the women beat their alumnae 124-17, though serious competition was not the main purpose of the meet.

“It’s not a very serious meet,” men’s coach Jarod Schroeder said. “It’s an opportunity for the guys to meet with those who came before them.”

Freshman Justin Hanson shared a similar sentiment, explaining that the meet allows athletes to ask alumni about their thoughts on the NU swim program and their experiences.

Ultimately, the women’s team had three goals for the meet, the most important of which was connecting with alumnae, Steketee said.

Steketee was also looking for clean starts and hitting good lines into the turns.

“I can see some things we still need to work on, but in terms of being able to focus on that they did a really good job,” she said.

Sophomore Jonathan Blansfield believes the men’s team also has room for improvement. On Thursday, Eastern Michigan topped NU 182-118, the first time since 2001 the Eagles outswam the Wildcats.

Schroeder described the meet as a “baptism by fire.” He said many of the younger swimmers were impressed by their times in the early season meet although the times were not good enough to get the Cats a victory.

“This year, with so many young guys, we gotta be patient and let them come into their own,” Schroeder said. “They certainly have a talented class, it’s just a matter of them figuring things out.”

Of the 20 swimmers that made the trip to Ypsilanti, Michigan, over half were freshmen experiencing the collegiate swim environment for the first time.

After having only been training for about five weeks and with the team missing several key contributors due to injuries, the Wildcats felt underprepared despite coming ready to race, Hanson and Blansfield said.

“But those are excuses and, in the Big Ten conference, excuses aren’t going to get us anywhere,” Blansfield said.

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Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @kara_stevick