The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Illinois swim & dive gears up for start of 2023-24 season

Illini+swimmers+rest+at+the+end+of+the+pool+on+Saturday.%0AThe+Illini+will+be+attending+an+upcoming+meet+on+Oct.+26.
Nathan Gonzalez
Illini swimmers rest at the end of the pool on Saturday. The Illini will be attending an upcoming meet on Oct. 26.

Following an intense intrateam meet this past Saturday, which concluded in a 150-138 victory for the Blue team, the Illinois swim and dive team is moving on to an exciting start to its fall season with a nonconference away meet. The team will face off against Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas at noon this Saturday. This is the first time that both teams will compete against another school in the 2023-24 season, as both teams started their year with intrasquad meets earlier in the month.

Sophomore Sara Jass was key for Team Orange last weekend, winning the 150 freestyle and contributing to a first-place finish in the 400 IM relay. Unfortunately for Jass, Blue dominated in the 400 freestyle and occupied each of the top three positions. Respective wins from senior Cara Bognar and freshman Kylee Sessions in the 150 butterfly and 100 breaststroke added more fuel to Team Blue, but it was ultimately a win in the 525 crescendo relay that sealed the deal.

Bognar expressed her excitement about the upcoming season and the things she is looking forward to, as well as her desire to see the new freshman class experience some of the team’s most special moments for the first time this season.

“I’m incredibly excited to watch the team and see how they grow and perform,” Bognar said. “Which is always cool to see all the newcomers go to their first dual meet, keep going and progressing forward throughout the season, (doing) a dance to a song to get the energy hyped up to get everyone excited to get in the pool and giving it their all. Afterwards … (we) get in a big circle and sing the Alma Mater (song) as well as ‘Oskee Wow-Wow’ together.”

Despite the loss, junior Sydney Stoll topped three events for the Orange: the 100 freestyle, 100 IM and 150 backstroke.

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Saturday will be the fifth time that Illinois and Kansas have faced off, and the first time they have met since 2015. The Illini have a 1-3 record against the Jayhawks so far, with the home versus away split also matching that mark (1-3). The one matchup Illinois won was the one time it faced Kansas at home, stacking the cards even further in the Jayhawks’ favor. But with 12 of Illinois’ 34 players being freshmen, some new juice could be just what the Illini need to break the away losing streak tradition. 

Both Illinois and Kansas won two-thirds of their meets last season, Illinois with a 6-3 record and Kansas with a 4-2 record, adding an additional wrinkle to this season’s meeting. Kansas’ last three seasons have been fairly consistent but do not share the same volume as Illinois, posting marks of 3-1 in 2020-21, 3-2 in 2021-22 and 4-2 in 2022-23. Meanwhile, Illinois has seen a slightly different trend in its recent records, participating in significantly more action in two of the three years. Starting with 1-3 in the COVID-19-shortened 2020-21 season, Illinois has consistently improved from 5-4 in 2021-22 and then most recently 6-3 in 2022-23. A higher workload in recent years, coupled with no shortage of fresh faces, could bode well for Illinois in its trip to Kansas.

After the Illini wrap up their 7 p.m. meet at Kansas on Saturday, they have a series of away meets ahead of them. The team’s next meet is scheduled for Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. CT versus Pepperdine in Malibu, California, with another nonconference doubleheader on the following day. Illinois’ first home meet against an out-of-school opponent will come against Vanderbilt on Nov. 4.

 

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