Men’s Swimming: Northwestern opens 2018-19 season with loss at Michigan

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Daily file photo by Noah Frick-Alofs

A Northwestern swimmer dives into the pool. The Wildcats opened their season with a loss.

Jimmy Lynn, Reporter


Swimming and Diving


Northwestern will have to wait at least another week to get into the win column this year after falling to Michigan, 183-109, on Saturday to open the season.

Though there were many bright spots for the young Wildcats, they were simply outmatched by the No. 6 Wolverines. Michigan came in first in all 16 races at Canham Natatorium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. NU was competitive in most races, thanks in part to exciting performances by freshmen Ryan Gridley and Andrew Zhang.

“We just wanted to get some good racing in, especially for the [freshmen], and I think we definitely did that,” senior Will Hofstadter said. “Ryan and Andrew were really going off, and that’s what you want to see from a meet like that.”

Gridley participated in four events — the 100-yard backstroke, the 200 back, the 200-yard medley relay and the 400-yard freestyle relay. He narrowly came in second in both backstroke events and helped his 400-yard freestyle relay team to a second-place finish as well.

“In any competition against Michigan, it’s hard not to get fired up,” Gridley said. “It was just exciting getting to go to Michigan and race them.”

Zhang also participated in four events. He came in second in the 100-yard freestyle, netting the Cats four points. He was also on the same 400-yard freestyle relay team as Gridley, finishing second in that event as well. He swam well in both the 100 back and the 200 medley relay, scoring points for NU in both of those events.

First-year coach Jeremy Kipp had a positive outlook on the loss and said the college dual meet system was a new swim meet structure for the inexperienced members of the team. He added that Michigan is “a perennial Big Ten powerhouse” and he expects to see better results soon against weaker teams.

“It’s way faster than most kids are used to from high school or any other prep,” Kipp said of college meets. “I think it’s actually a good thing to start the season against the best — now we know where we’re at and what improvements need to be made, and we’re under less pressure.”

Kipp said he plans to see improvement this upcoming Friday when the Cats host Illinois, University of Chicago, and Illinois-Chicago. Unlike last weekend in Ann Arbor, NU is favored to win this weekend.

Kipp said the Cats will be in the driver’s seat for these next few weeks and should be able to claim some victories.

“We have a lot of potential,” Hofstadter said, confirming his high expectations for the team this year. “(This meet) really showed what this team can do. I think we’re a little raw right now, and a little beaten down from practice, but I think when we have a chance to rest for (future meets) and (The Big Ten Championship), this team will be capable of some crazy things.”

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