Men’s Swimming: Wildcats face challenges in light of recent injuries

Kara Stevick, Reporter

Swimming and Diving

Coming off of a bye week, Northwestern must battle several injuries as it gears up to compete in its second to last dual meet setting of the season this weekend.

Of the 26 members on the team, only 14 swimmers and 4 divers will be traveling to Columbia, Missouri, to compete against Missouri, Kentucky and Southern Illinois on Nov. 6 and Nov. 7.

“Some of our more versatile guys may not be swimming their best events this weekend just because we have holes to fill in the lineup,” coach Jarod Schroeder said.

Rather than swimming their best events, athletes are instead expected to excel in what are sometimes their second or even third best events, Schroeder said, challenging the team as it competes against what he said are top program competitors.

“Each week we got to just keep getting faster and faster,” freshman Justin Hanson said. “Jarod tries to have us learn how to race fast even if we’re tired, so that’s our mentality.”

Though the Wildcats successfully defeated Kentucky and SIU last season, they fell to Missouri 221-127.

Although the squad’s recent bye week provided competing athletes with extra training time in anticipation for this weekend, the team remains two to three weeks behind its competitors training-wise due to the late start of the quarter system, Schroeder said.

“We have to take it one meet at a time,” sophomore Jonathan Blansfield said. “Each meet is important so we can’t really think about Big Tens until … it’s the next meet.”

Schroeder said the Cats typically become more on par with their opponents in terms of training and fitness by the end of November, in time for the TYR invitational, nationals and, eventually, Big Tens.

While the coaching staff continues to remain patient with the younger athletes on the team as they adjust to the collegiate swim atmosphere, the freshmen members of the team must increase their efforts from what has been seen thus far, Schroeder said.

“They got to figure it out and to continue to improve and get to the level where they can help us out at the dual meet setting,” Schroeder said.

As training increases in difficulty and NU continues working on being aggressive during the front halves of its races, Hanson said the younger members of the team have begun to fit into their roles, and the team will continue to improve as time passes.

Schroeder, however, said the Cats have still not fully realized the extent of their capabilities as a team as they have yet to be at full strength this season.

Though he said the adversity the team has felt throughout this season helps make them stronger and pushes athletes out of their comfort zones, Schroeder said the team needs to meet such challenges despite not being at full strength.

“I don’t want to be the type of coach that is going to be like, ‘Well, we can be good next year,’” Schroeder said. “We need to figure out a way to be good this year.”

Twitter: @kara_stevick