Swimming and diving will compete after monthlong break

The Illinois swimming and diving team looks to reap the benefits of a month’s work of practice as it takes part in the three-day Miami (Ohio) Invitational, which begins on Thursday.

This will be the first time the Illini will compete since their win against Kansas on Nov. 9. During the break between competitions, the team has put a heavy concentration on detail work. The team has focused on kick work, turns, speed, yardage and pace work as well as practicing at the speed they expect to swim at by the end of the season.

Head coach Sue Novitsky said she uses this heavy intensity in practice to build upon the foundation formed at the beginning of the season. She believes the months of December and January are the toughest of the year. The work cannot stop midway through the season, and it is essential to continue to build. 

“We need to have this strong base heading into the championship meets,” Novitsky said.    

Although it has been a tough month of practice, the swimmers were able to enjoy some time at home during break. The work, however, did not stop during break. The swimmers either did the workouts Novitsky gave them or practiced with their hometown club team. The break was also a time for the swimmers to reunite with family, especially for those who live far from the University.

“It was great to see and spend some time with the family,” said sophomore Isabella Schamber, who is from Whittier, Calif. “It helped me get a fresh new perspective heading into this part of the season.”

The Illini will compete in the invitational for the first time since 2009. The three-day invitational consisting of an eight-team field will present a new challenge for the team, as they compete in their longest event of the year.

The invitational will have a preliminary and final format, meaning that each swimmer will swim at least twice a day, and some will swim as many as eight times. It will test the team’s mental toughness and challenge each swimmer to do well in the morning in order to compete in the evening.

Fatigue will be a major factor, as it is important to recover after each day. Though the team is heading into the invitational having not competed in a month, the team has worked hard during practice and is not as well rested as some might expect.

This will help set the mentality the team plans to have later in the season leading up to the Big Ten Championship meet, as the team will have six meets in a span of five weeks leading up to the championship meet.   

The Big Tens will also hold the same format as the invitational, which is why the Illini are treating this weekend as a very important event. 

“It’s a challenge and an opportunity to see what we can do,” Novitsky said. “It will be interesting to see how we handle it.”

Michal can be reached at [email protected] and @bennythebull94.