Illinois swimming opens season with Orange and Blue meet

The+Fighting+Illini+Swimming+and+Diving+come+together+after+the+Orange+and+Blue+Exhibition+meet+at+the+ARC%2C+on+Friday%2C+Oct.+3%2C+2014.+The+Orange+Team+won+125-97.

The Fighting Illini Swimming and Diving come together after the Orange and Blue Exhibition meet at the ARC, on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. The Orange Team won 125-97.

The Illinois swim and dive team experienced its first competitive action Friday in its annual intrasquad Orange and Blue exhibition meet.

Winning all but three of the 12 events, the Orange team finished with a score of 125-97.

With the season set beginning Oct. 17 against Northwestern, head coach Sue Novitsky used the exhibition to help prepare for the meets ahead.

“This will definitely help us put together our lineup when we’re going into Northwestern and it’s going to be a very competitive meet,” Novitsky said. “We can’t control what Northwestern does, but we’re going to keep making ourselves grow and become better.”

Senior Alison Meng, who was on the Orange team, broke a meet record in the 100 back (56.01 seconds) and was on the relay squad that broke a record in the 200 medley (1:47.32) and the 200 free (1:36.84).

“It’s awesome to get some records out of the way, right away,” Meng said. “To get to compete against each other is awesome and fun … it’s all a good time for us.”

Freshman Samantha Stratford was also a part of the winning Orange team in the 200 IM (2:05.14) and was victorious in her other individual event, the 100 free (52.68).

“It was a good start to the season,” Stratford said. “My hope is to make a NCAA qualifying A-standard and just work hard every day to make that happen.”

The three events won by the Blue team included Gabbie Stecker in the 500 free (5:01.12), sophomore Olivia Kassouni in the three-meter dive (238.90) and senior Erika Murphy’s diving sweep in the 1-meter dive (220.25).

“We’re training really well right now and we’re a lot stronger,” Novitsky said. “I think we’re going to be able to surprise some people and be very competitive throughout the season.”

Daniel can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @chisports2.