Men’s Swimming: Northwestern hosts local rivals in search of first win


Daily file photo by Alec Carroll

Nick Peterson glances ahead. The senior and the Wildcats will have a prime opportunity to get their first wins against the University of Chicago and Illinois-Chicago.

Benjamin Rosenberg, Reporter

Swimming and Diving

Despite several strong individual performances through three meets, Northwestern as a team is still looking for its first win of the season.

But after a pair of tough meets last weekend against No. 12 Georgia and No. 24 Georgia Tech, the Wildcats (0-3) have a prime opportunity ahead of them Saturday in a tri-meet against Illinois-Chicago (1-1) and the University of Chicago. NU beat the Flames and UChicago by over 100 points in each of the last two seasons.

After last week’s loss to the Bulldogs, junior Tyler Lis said the Cats need to focus on improving their stamina to finish races well.

“Seeing that we have that speed and we can be there, we just need to finish a little stronger and work on pushing each other throughout the end of practice,” Lis said.

The Cats will be at home for the second-straight weekend, which senior Almog Olshtein said creates a sense of comfort and normality. In their first two home meets last weekend, a number of NU swimmers improved their times from the previous meet, particularly in the distance freestyle events.

It was not nearly enough, as the Cats were blown out both Friday and Saturday, but many swimmers saw the meet as a way to build experience.

“We’ve got a really good freshman class, a big freshman class, so as the year goes on, it’s going to keep getting better,” junior Jack Thorne said.

The team’s newest additions promise to be important to the upcoming slate.

Before the season, senior Jonathan Blansfield said the freshmen in the distance freestyle events would be one of NU’s strengths, and so far that has proved true, with freshmen Liam Gately and DJ Hwang stepping up in the early going. Against Georgia Tech, Gately won the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:35.48, and Hwang took first in the 1,000-yard freestyle in 9:28.47.

In last year’s meet against UIC and UChicago, then-senior Charlie Cole won the 500 free. This year, NU will need to find others, particularly Gately and Hwang, to replace his production.

The team will also lean on its veterans as it looks to continue its dominance of local rivals. Many current NU swimmers recorded wins against the Flames and UChicago in 2016, including Olshtein in the 100 free and Lis in the 200 back.

Saturday will likely be NU’s best chance to get in the win column this season. UChicago is a Division III program, and Saturday’s meet will be its first of the season. UIC, meanwhile, has lost to the Cats each of the last 10 seasons.

With plenty of meets still on the schedule, Hwang said he is excited to see how the team grows.

“One thing that makes this team so special is we’re such a small team, and we have such a tight-knit group,” Hwang said. “The camaraderie is amazing. We’re going to be motivated.”

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