Illinois swimming and diving mending the departure of Meng

By Drake Pena

The Illinois record books list the names of some of the greatest athletes in the school’s history. But if you skip to the chapter on swimming and diving, there’s a name you’ll repeatedly see: Alison Meng.

Meng graduated from Illinois in May as the owner of four individual and two relay school records. She is also among the top-10 fastest individuals in four other events.

Head coach Sue Novitsky said that Meng’s presence will be missed but is confident her team will step up and adjust as the season goes on.

“You don’t just replace Alison Meng right away,” Novitsky said. “It’s a process along with the other ones as well. We lost a lot of leadership and point potential with a lot of our graduating seniors, and so it’s going to be a process to see who’s going to step up and challenge themselves … we’ll be adjusting as we go through it.”

Senior co-captain Lori Lynn said she is excited for the upcoming season, along with getting the opportunity to be a leader and mentor for her team.

“I think it’s a different experience for me because there is no class above me,” Lynn said. “I look to my teammates, and I’m the one answering questions now helping the younger people. We are excited for the season with the new freshman class and who’s going to take the spots and be able to step up and take those places.”

Lynn is not the only member of the team who has made her presence felt. Novitsky said fellow co-captains and senior, Hollie Smith and Jennifer Coady, have brought in to their leadership roles.

“I think all our seniors take that pretty seriously,” Novitsky said. “They have been pretty diligent when working with the team and addressing anything (that needs to be addressed). All of our seniors are actively involved and not just along for the ride which is good to see.”

Senior Stephanie Hein said a mentor role isn’t just sprung on — it’s one that develops over time.

“It’s a role that you grow into during your four years here, so I don’t think it adds any pressure,” Hein said. ”I like it, I like showing all the younger girls what I love about being an Illini and what it means to be a part of this team, and dedicate yourself and your time to making our team better.”

With lots of leadership and spots to fill, the Illini hope to re-open the school’s records books and write in a few different names this upcoming season.

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