Illinois dominates Dual Meet Spectacular

By Drake Pena

The Illini won each of their meets in dominant fashion, beating Western Illinois, Olivet Nazarene and Eastern Illinois by scores of 366-69, 338-101, and 371-66, respectivelyRB. In addition to the three wins, the team broke a multitude of records, including five pool records and two school recordsRB, which head coach Sue Novitsky said “is outstanding for being on the (pool) deck for over six hours.”

Novitsky said she is proud of the effort her team showed throughout the draining day in and out of the pool.

“I thought the team performed well from start to finish today,” Novitsky said. “There was a lot of energy all the way through the meet which is what we wanted to see.”

The Illini started their six-hour swimming marathon by winning 11 of their 12 events in the first sessionRB. Illinois started making changes to the record books early, beginning with the relay team of juniors Gabbie Stecker and Amelia Schilling, freshman Megan Vuong and sophomore Samantha Stratford, which broke the record with a time of 7 minutes 27 secondsRB. The Illini grabbed the record after a 30-year stranglehold by MichiganRB.

Three events later, senior co-captain Lori Lynn broke a school and pool record in the 50 meter butterflyRB. Stratford joined in the record-breaking festivities once again, setting a pool record in the 200 butterflyRB.

During intermission, nine swimmers and divers, along with their families, were honored in a senior day ceremony. The Illini continued with their winning ways in the second session, winning 10 of the 12 events they competed inRB.

Stratford earned three event victories in the second session, giving her a total of five for the day. She ended the day with two individual pool records and one school record, in addition to being a part of two record-breaking relaysRB.

Not all the praise went to the swimmers, as junior diver Olivia Kassouni scored 288.25 in the three-meter diving event, securing a first place finish and qualifying her for the NCAA Zone Diving competitionRB

Illinois will be away from home next week when it heads to Michigan State in East Lansing, Michigan, on Oct. 23RB. Michigan State is looking for its first Big Ten win after dropping meets to Purdue, Michigan and Iowa.RB

Novitsky said she knows that being on the road can be rough, but she said she is confident in her teams’ locker room atmosphere for her players to keep fighting.

“We work on having that family atmosphere so that the athletes really support each other, both in and out of the pool,” Novitsky said. “I think we have an environment that lets them be themselves … a lot of the times that relaxes the atmosphere and allows them to feel comfortable, and working hard.”

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A previous version of this story stated that Illinois did not send any divers to the NCAA Zone Diving Championships last year. That is incorrect. Illini Olivia Kassouni, Erika Murphy and Raquel Corniuk competed at the Zone Diving Championships last year. The Daily Illini regrets this error.