Women’s Swimming: Northwestern ready for Big Ten Conference Championships


Daily file photo by Noah Frick-Alofs

A Northwestern swimmer enters the pool. The Wildcats will look to surprise some people at the upcoming Big Ten Championships.

Rachel Kupfer, Reporter

Swimming and Diving

Returning to competition after a tough weekend in January against Minnesota and Purdue, Northwestern will jump into the final meet of the season at the Big Ten Conference Championships on Wednesday.

At the meet at Ohio State University, the Wildcats (6-5, 3-3 Big Ten) will swim and dive against 12 other teams over four days. Each day will include preliminary and final swimming sessions with diving events in between, making for long days of competition.

But even with the increasing excitement, coach Abby Steketee said the team is trying to remember that the outcome of the championship will not make or break the season, and that it will have been a successful one regardless.

“It’s knowing that we’re proud of ourselves going in, before the meet has even started,” Steketee said. “We’re bigger than just one meet. That’s a mindset I really believe in.”

To train, Steketee said NU began practicing at times corresponding to the schedule on which it will be competing at the Big Ten Championships as early as winter break, with two four-day practice segments divided by day into sessions. The early preparation gave the swimmers confidence and got the team physically and psychologically ready, she said.

Sophomore Malorie Han said the team has also been working on consistency and routine throughout the season, and feels ready to compete.

“We know how every single part of our race … (is) supposed to go,” Han said. “We come in and we do the same warm-ups we’ve been doing in practice, have the same interactions, eat the same food and get ourselves on that schedule. That is essential to making this meet as easy as possible.”

For swimmers, the conference meet will be the last time to qualify for the NCAA Swimming Championships in March. The only way to secure a spot at the meet will be to swim at or below the ‘A’ standard times.

On the diving side, the conference is the last chance to qualify for the NCAA Zone Diving meets, the qualifiers for the NCAA Diving Championships. Last season at the Championships, now-junior Olivia Rosendahl became the national champion in the 10-meter platform event.

Despite the pressure, the meet will still be high-energy, especially for the freshmen, who have never experienced the conference meet before.

For freshman Rachel Tseng, an international student from Singapore, training this season was different from what she is used to at home, and she said she is ready to see how she does at a large meet in a different country.

“It’s a really new experience for all the freshmen, especially for international students,” Tseng said. “I heard the Big Tens is one of the best conferences to experience such a great atmosphere.”

Overall, Steketee said her favorite part will not be a specific person or event, but the excitement she will get to see from the Cats.

“As a coach, you look for those moments when someone touches a wall and they have that illuminating experience,” Steketee said. “They’re radiating just because they’re so proud of themselves. … My favorite part is anytime someone can get to the wall in a way that they have that absolute elation, having done the best they could on a big stage.”

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Twitter: @rachkupfer