Women’s Swimming: Northwestern prepped for final home meet of the season


Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson

Peyton Greenberg takes a stroke. The junior and the Cats take on Iowa in their last home meet of the season Friday.

Rachel Kupfer, Reporter

Swimming and Diving

Returning to chilly Evanston after training in Florida and out-swimming Florida Gulf Coast in December, Northwestern (5-3, 2-1 Big Ten) will compete at home for the last time this season against Iowa (4-3, 2-3 Big Ten) on Saturday.

The team will seek redemption after last year’s meet against the Hawkeyes, when Iowa edged out the Wildcats in the final relay. Senior co-captain Aja Malone is ready to come back and swim against the Hawkeyes one last time.

“We have a whole new lineup this year and a lot of great freshmen,” Malone said. “I’m excited to see how they do and how our team stacks up.”

The meet will bring out some of NU’s best swims of the season and might come down to the 400-yard freestyle relay again, sophomore Malorie Han said.

Saturday will also be the last home meet for the eight seniors on the roster. Han said she wants to win for the seniors on the team, whom she described as inspiring and passionate.

“When it comes to racing you can pull out any effort for your teammates,” Han said. “We’re going to use all of our team spirit, bonding, motivation and training.”

Han said she is looking forward to supporting her training partners, seniors Mary Warren and Anna Keane, in particular. Han said she has loved watching Keane excel in the 200-yard freestyle and up her training for this final season.

Keane, for her part, said she has focused on keeping her head down for finishes and remembering to not breathe into walls, especially because for longer races, adjustments add up and become instrumental. She added she is eager to compete at home one final time.

“I don’t think it’s hit me yet that it’s my last race at this pool,” Keane said. “I want to make sure I swim as fast as I can to go out on a good note.”  

Coach Abby Steketee said she knows that there will be a little extra firepower going into this meet after NU felt clipped last year. She hopes to see a hard battle in honor of the seniors, and is “looking for fierce racing” from the Cats, she said.

Steketee has appreciated Warren in particular for leaving behind a legacy of gratitude that will have a long-term impact on the program, the coach said. The senior class as a whole has been extremely inclusive and managed to maintain NU’s positive team atmosphere even during high intensity practices, Steketee said.

“They’re genuinely committed to helping their teammates have great experiences,” she said. “That mindset, when they’re committed to their teammates, helps them be really effective leaders.”

The Iowa meet is a signal of the season winding to a close, with only two more meets after this weekend. It’s a surreal and nostalgic feeling, Malone said, and she is prepared to represent the Cats one more time at home before the end of her career.

“It’s very bittersweet. A lot of us have been (swimming) for the majority of our lives. I’ve been doing it for 16 years,” Malone said. “Having a big meet and the next day thinking, ‘Oh, I’m retired from swimming now,’ is just very bittersweet.”

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