Swimmers 1-1 over weekend

Tim Eggerding

Tim Eggerding

By Courtney Linehan

Bouncing back after a tough loss to Northwestern, swimming and diving slipped by Iowa Saturday afternoon.

The Illini topped the Hawkeyes 152-148 Saturday, in a meet that came down to the last relay.

“It was a hard meet to go into because Iowa hasn’t swum that much,” said Illinois coach Sue Novitsky. “I know their top swimmers very well; they’re very talented. I knew it was going to come down to who put what swimmers where and who won the races.”

Sophomore Barbie Viney placed first in the 50, 100 and 200 free events. Her 100 free time of 50.84 seconds was enough to set a pool record.

While the individual successes were key, Novitsky said having as many swimmers as possible place in the top five of each event – the only positions that earn points – is just as important.

“Dual meets are definitely geared towards winning events, but you still need to have people stepping up and getting those bottom places,” Novitsky said.

It was a great turnaround for the Illini, who suffered a 173-136 loss to Northwestern less than 24 hours before topping the Hawkeyes.

“I told them when we got to the meet Saturday that there were a couple things I wanted to see,” Novitsky said. “Being tough, swimming under adverse conditions, swimming to the best of our ability. Being a team, Friday we were just a little bit out of sync.”

On Friday, Viney placed second in the 50, 100 and 200 free, the events she won on Saturday. Senior Trisha Lakatos also came in second in the 100 and 200 breaststroke.

“On Friday we were a little off, a little flat I would say,” Novitsky said. “Overall as a team, we were a little sluggish.”

The divers’ success came in the reverse order as the swimmers’, with their best finishes happening Friday.

Sophomore Jackie Bain finished second in the 3-meter dive and fourth in the 1-meter, while freshman Abbey Bernardo took second in the 1-meter and fourth in the 3-meter.

“Jackie did really well, her family was there, her coach from high school was there, so she had a lot of adrenaline going,” said diving coach Billy McGowan.

Worn down by travel on Saturday, however, the divers both lost to the competition McGowan expected them to beat.

“I think they kind of ran out of gas,” McGowan said.

One of the highlights of the weekend came from senior Kirsten Koepcke, who won the distance free events both nights. Koepcke finished the 500 free in 5:01.38 Friday and 5:01.31 Saturday, and swam the 1000 free in 10:10.92 Friday and 10:15.35 Saturday.

“She’s taken some great steps since she was a freshman,” Novitsky said. “She’s still learning some things in racing; I think that has given her more confidence and that itself has helped her transfer that into being a leader for the team.”

Gearing Up, Getting Healthy

This week the Illini are building toward the Big Ten Quad Meet, which will be held in West Lafayette, Ind., Friday and Saturday.

Novitsky said the team’s main focus for the week will be getting healthy while keeping up the training intensity.

“We’re going to be balancing all the travel and competing we’ve been doing with some good quality practice time,” she said.