Swimming closes in on top teams

By Alex Iniguez

After what head coach Sue Novitsky described as an up and down weekend, the Illinois swimming and diving team finished last in the Notre Dame Invitational on Saturday, but showcased its ability to compete with some of the top schools in the nation. Illinois concluded both days of the meet behind No. 22 Indiana, No. 13 Michigan and Notre Dame, but closed in on the pack by the meet’s end.

“We’re coming off our big training trip,” Novitsky said. “They were training five or more hours a day, so they’re pretty tired right now.”

The fatigue didn’t stop junior Marissa Clapp from having another solid meet for the Illini, finishing in fourth place in the 200-meter breaststroke with a time of 2:17.92.

Along with Clapp’s performance, sophomore Amy Forsberg and junior Katie Theissen reached season-best times and sophomore Courtney Spivak recorded a career-best time of 5:26.77 in the 500 freestyle. Sophomore diver Kyla Bachtell scored a 237.90 on the 3-meter diving board, which was good enough for a season-best score.

While Novitsky said she was pleased with the team’s comeback after a shaky first day of the invitational, she added that there is still plenty of work to be done.

“We just have to be a little sharper and work on the small details like turns and finishes,” Novitsky said.

The team will have little time to recover from the weekend, as the Iowa Hawkeyes are awaiting the Illini’s trip to Iowa City, Iowa, on Saturday. Iowa has beaten Michigan State and finished first in the Florida International Invitational in Miami in its latest meet. After the weekend – and despite the fatigue – Novitsky knows the team is up to the task of competing with the Hawkeyes.

“You just have to be mentally tough and get up for a race, no matter how you feel,” Novitsky said. “It’s one of those things about being a competitive athlete. We’re going into Iowa where we always have close meets, and they know they can compete no matter how they’re feeling.”