Women’s Swimming: Wildcats head to Notre Dame following big win


Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

Ellen Stello butterflies across the pool. The junior captain is confident that Northwestern can take down Notre Dame in their meet this weekend.

Tucker Johnson, Reporter

Swimming and Diving

With a huge victory over winter break under its belt, Northwestern returns to action this weekend against rival Notre Dame.

The Wildcats will travel to South Bend for their last road meet of the season before the Big Ten Championships. They will look to continue their strong performance following the Florida Atlantic University FUN Invitational on Dec. 19, where the team won 12 of 14 events. However, Notre Dame offers a slightly higher caliber of competition.

“It should be a competitive meet, there’s places where we are much faster, and there’s places where they are much faster,” junior captain Lacey Locke said.  

Coach Abby Steketee echoed Locke, calling the Notre Dame matchup particularly fun because it is nearby and the team is similar to NU in many characteristics, such as its combination of excellent academics and athletics.

At the teams’ last meeting one year ago, the Cats earned a close win. In a thrilling conclusion, NU placed 1-2 in the 400 yard freestyle relay, the meet’s final event.  The Cats’ first place team finished a full nine seconds ahead of Notre Dame’s first team, and they earned just enough points to pull ahead of their opponent to win 154-146.

Notre Dame is coming off a 243-105 loss last weekend to No. 1 Virginia. However, the Fighting Irish should provide a challenge for the Cats, as many of NU’s strongest events are Notre Dame’s weakest, and vice versa, which should serve to keep the team score close.

“I’m looking for girls to finish their races with precision, a lot of the races are going to come down to close finishes, so having momentum all the way into the wall, having heads down at the wall,”  Steketee said.

She continued that she is looking to see the little things that show commitment to the races, and the details will be important to the final team score.

Relays will be particularly important at this meet, Steketee said.  At the Big Ten Championships in February, NU can only enter one team in each relay, and Steketee is looking to use this meet as an opportunity to gauge how those teams might be best composed.  

The team is looking forward to the meet, its captains said, and the Cats are excited to compete in one of college athletics most storied pools.

“We always have a good time racing Notre Dame because it’s a pretty even match,” junior captain Ellen Stello said.

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