Swimming, diving finish season in lower half of the Big Ten

By Daniel Collins

While the season’s results were far from spectacular, the Illinois swimming and diving and diving team always gave its fans a good showing at home.

After competing on the road for the entirety of the first half of the season, the team finished off the regular season with four-straight home meets.

The first two meet were against Iowa and Iowa State in mid-January. The Illini fell to the Hawkeyes – the No. 21 team in the College of Swimming Coaches of America rankings – 165-135 but defeated the Cyclones 168-132. Notable achievements included freshman Samantha Stratford breaking the ARC pool record in the individual medley against Iowa with a time of 2:04.31, and senior Alison Meng winning a combined six events – three in individual races and three in relays. LB

Following the meets against Iowa and Iowa State, Illinois capped off the regular season with back-to-back wins against Nebraska (171-129) and Michigan State (190-110). LBAgainst the Cornhuskers, Meng set a pool record in the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly with times of 55.42 and 55.81, respectively. LBIn its meet against the Spartans, the team honored its eight departing seniors, and received contributions by multiple members — no swimmer or diver won more than two events.

“For the Iowa meet, we were definitely sluggish and at some points trying too hard,” said head coach Sue Novitsky LB during the weekend of the Iowa and Iowa State meets.

While the Illini ended the regular season on a high note and finished with a dual meet record of 6-4, their postseason run didn’t garner any team accolades. Many personal bests and school records were set at the Big Ten Championships, but the team finished 12th in a field of 13.

Illinois ended its season at the NCAA Zone Diving Championships — no swimmers qualified for NCAA Championships. The three divers who competed for Illinois were senior Erika Murphy, freshman Raquel Corniuk and sophomore Olivia Kassouni. Corniuk had the best showing for the Illini. She finished in 10th with 452.80 points, two spots out of NCAA qualifying. LB

One of the more consistent divers this year was Murphy, who Novitsky referred to as one of the team’s best competitors during the season.

In terms of next season, the team will continue its attempt to make a better showing in the Big Ten. Competing in the Big Ten is something that Novitsky doesn’t look past.

“The Big Ten Conference is probably the deepest conference in the country and that leaves little room for error,” she said after the Big Ten Championship.

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