Men’s Swimming: Northwestern dominates TYR Invitational


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

DJ Hwang swims. The sophomore won the 1650 freestyle event.

Jimmy Lynn, Reporter

Swimming and Diving

Northwestern wrapped up a commanding victory on Sunday in the TYR Invitational, winning 15 events over the three-day meet this weekend at the Norris Aquatics Center.

The Wildcats scored 1223 points in the annual invitational, nearly doubling William & Mary’s second-place finish of 697. Michigan State finished third, St. Louis fourth and Illinois-Chicago fifth.

In addition to winning 15 gold medals, NU had 12 silver finishes — no other opponent topped three. The Cats’ relay teams, as well as the freestyle swimmers and backstrokers, bested the competition in a majority of events. However, the team showed no glaring weaknesses at home this weekend and took care of Big Ten rival Michigan State with ease.

“This was the most dominant we’ve been over Michigan State in the past few years,” senior Jack Thorne said. “We can ride this momentum going into the last half of the season.”

The TYR Invitational this year marks the middle of the swim season for NU, which showed fans there is much more to look forward to in the second half. Though the young Cats have become more cohesive and polished since the beginning of the season, they still hold the potential to compete at an even higher level.

“Everybody has something they can work on, so every single race can get better and we can keep improving as the season goes on,” Thorne said.

The freshmen continued their strong seasons. Ryan Gridley finished first in three individual swims, recording a time of 1:48.63 in his 200 backstroke win, and Andrew Zhang placed second in three events, netting the Cats 66 points.

“(Gridley) killed every one of his events, but, I mean, 1:43 is what (Jack Thorne) and I swam at (the Big Ten Championship) last year, and that placed in the top 16 there,” senior Tyler Lis said of Gridley’s efforts over the weekend. “To do it midseason was awesome.”

Northwestern also received contributions from members of the team who have been quiet for the first few meets of the season. Sophomore Jeffrey Durmer won gold in the 1000 freestyle, and came in second to teammate and long-distance connoisseur DJ Hwang in the 1650 freestyle, scoring 74 total points for Northwestern. Freshman Henry Blaul won the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:01.19, which Thorne said was “phenomenal.”

After the emphatic home victory, the Wildcats are looking ahead to the second half of the season with confidence and excitement. The men’s team does not have a meet until Jan. 19 in Iowa City, where the Cats will compete with Big Ten opponents Iowa and Wisconsin.

“This (win) really shows the direction that this team is going in, how much of an impact the freshmen have and how big momentum is for us right now,” Lis said. “We’re gonna keep building off this, explode and get some best times and break some records in the second half of the season.”

Twitter: @jamesbiscotti33