Women’s Swimming: Northwestern to continue season against No. 18 Wisconsin

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Daily file photo by Alec Carroll

A Northwestern swimmer takes a breath. The Wildcats have a chance to extend their winning streak to five against Wisconsin on Saturday.

Rachel Kupfer, Reporter


Swimming and Diving


As the training level rises for Northwestern, so too will the level of competition when the Wildcats return to the pool Saturday against No. 18 Wisconsin.

NU (4-2) dominated its most recent meets, beating its opponents by more than 40 points in each matchup. But now, against the Badgers (3-4), senior co-captain Aja Malone will remind her teammates to focus on their own lanes and races, she said.

“Obviously they’re a big team,” Malone said. “They’re a good team, but we’re a good team, too.”

The meet will feature the season’s first 400-yard individual medley event, which coach Abby Steketee said will be good practice for the TYR Invitational, which begins Nov. 17.

This weekend will also be the first in which the Cats can focus on a single opponent, as NU competed in multiple meets in all previous weekends.

“I’ll be really interested to see how they compete with one meet versus two,” Steketee said. “I know they’re all going to try as hard as they can and fight for every inch.”

Instead of the usual Friday meet, the Cats will have practices to finish off the third week of their competitive training phase.

Previous weeks have emphasized stamina, but this block also includes a big increase in speed, power and pace training, Steketee said.

“It’s really getting us prepped to just get up and race fast on the weekends,” junior Alex Grimes said. “It’s really just about being mentally tough and getting up and racing even when you’re tired.”

The training block has also given every member of the team room to work on different technical and strategic corrections.

Steketee singled out freshman Ilektra Lebl as one of the swimmers taking advantage of this opportunity to explore ways to attack races differently.

“We’re looking to see if our details are a little more polished after having more practice with starts and turns in the competitive phase, and looking to identify anything else we want to fix before TYR,” Steketee said.

Despite the personal and competitive challenges to come, the Cats can count on support from their teammates on the men’s side. The two teams are a lot closer now than in previous years, Malone said, so it’s important to have the men on deck at meets.

After the meet, the teams will share the football field instead of the swimming pool when they are honored during Saturday night’s home game against Purdue.

“That’ll be really fun,” Grimes said. “Whether we win or lose, it’ll be a good experience for all of us.”

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Twitter: @rachkupfer

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