Women’s Swimming: Northwestern sees serious improvement at Big Tens


Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson

Northwestern swimmers launch from the starting blocks. Only one Wildcat, freshman Olivia Rosendahl, was named an all-Big Ten selection this season.

Tucker Johnson, Reporter

Swimming and Diving

After a disappointing meet last season, Northwestern saw strong improvements across the board at this year’s Big Ten championships.

The Wildcats scored 467 points over the four day meet, more than three times as many points as they scored last year, and finished eighth overall.

“I was really proud of how the women fought from session to session,” coach Abby Steketee said. “It was a step forward for the program.”

Freshman diver Olivia Rosendahl led the way for NU with a second place finish in the platform diving championship. Rosendahl scored a career-high 329.95 points in the platform competition and took second to Minnesota’s Yu Zhou. Zhou placed fifth in the platform competition at last year’s NCAA championships and swept the diving competition at Big Tens.

Rosendahl also placed fourth in the championship final of the 3-meter springboard and eighth from the 1-meter board.

In the swimming events, junior Melissa Postoll had a once in a lifetime meet, breaking NU school records in both the 200 yard backstroke and the 200 yard Individual Medley. In the backstroke, Postoll’s time of 1:55.99 was good enough for seventh place overall.

In the 200 IM, Postoll finished eleventh and broke a school record Amy Balcerzak had held since 2000. Postoll entered the meet with a career-best time of 2:02.37 in the 200 IM, but was seeded 45th in the Championships after her preliminary round.

Postoll smashed her previous personal best time in preliminaries to finish in 2:00.12 and qualify for the consolation final. But Postoll wasn’t satisfied and during the evening finals session just a few hours later, she finished half a second faster to take the school record.

Going into the meet, Postoll wasn’t even the Cats’ fastest swimmer in the event this season.

“Your swims in a championship meet reflect what you’ve done for a long period of time,” Steketee said. “(Postoll) has worked exceedingly hard, and when we were tapering she was one of the people who felt the worst, and sometimes that’s a really good sign.”

Junior Annika Winsnes was the only other NU swimmer to compete in a championship final at the meet. After swimming a season best time of 49.41 seconds in the preliminaries for the 100 yard freestyle, Winsnes placed seventh overall in the final.

In addition to Postoll’s incredible performances, the Cats saw multiple other swimmers climb to new and prominent positions in the record books. Notably, freshman Peyton Greenberg became the third fastest 200 yard breaststroker in school history. After tying for 24th and the last spot in the bonus final, Greenberg won a swim-off with Purdue’s Cady Farlow in 2:13.34 to qualify for the final and earn a spot in the record books.

“That was unbelievable,” Steketee said. “To have two races within 45 minutes of each other as a freshman, and to really take advantage of the moment, that was a great moment.”

NU’s swimmers will now prepare for the U.S. Olympic Trials, to be held in Omaha, Nebraska the last week of June. Senior Julianne Kurke and sophomore Mary Warren both achieved Trials cut times at Big Tens, joining six teammates who had already qualified. Rosendahl has also qualified for the Olympic Diving Trials.

“As a coach I really believe that if women come in day after day and work really, really hard and they work with each other and trust each other, in the critical moments they can go a lot faster than they’ve gone before,” Steketee said.

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