Illinois swim and dive team begins road swing in Miami Friday
October 31, 2019
After two weeks without competition, the Illinois swim and dive team is ready to compete in an away meet this weekend against Miami and Florida International University in Miami.
With an overall record of 4-1-1, Illinois is starting its season off strongly, exemplified by the team’s flawless record at home. Now all that is left on the schedule, which includes the team’s spring calendar, are away meets.
However, a winning record doesn’t dictate where the team finishes in Big Ten, but having a positive record can help motivate the athletes.
Miami heads into the meet with an overall record of 0-2, while Florida International enters with a record of 2-3. After a rare tie in the dual meet against Michigan State on Oct. 19, the team is ready to bounce back and get a win.
Head coach Sue Novitsky was impressed with the team despite the last meet ending in a tie. She said the team never gave up.
“We never stopped fighting to get back,” Novitsky said. “The team showed a lot of great character, and they just kept coming race after race.”
This will be the first time this season Illinois will travel outside the Midwest. It will be a new experience for the freshmen, as it’s also a two-day meet.
Miami and Florida International University have already competed against each other earlier this season. FIU won 169-131.
“Florida International always has some great swimmers,” Novitsky said. “So it’ll be a tough competition along with the University of Miami.”
Standout swimmer and senior Kristin Anderson put in a lot of hard work last season and over the summer, and it’s starting to pay off.
“We rely on (Anderson) a lot for our relays and individual events,” Novitsky said.
Sophomores Abigail Cabush and Sarah Cano have stepped up and are performing well. Among the freshman class, Athena Salafatinos has also stood out. At the Michigan State meet on Oct. 19, she earned a lifetime best time in the 200-yard freestyle.
“She’s ranked on the team, in the top three in multiple events,” Novitsky said.
On Oct. 23, the Big Ten announced Taylor Shegos as Diver of the Week, while Cabush claimed Swimmer of the Week.
“It was exciting, I wasn’t necessarily expecting it,” Novitsky said. “It’s always great when they get the recognition they’ve put in.”
While it may not be a record-setting start to the season, Novitsky is still impressed by the team’s efforts, especially since this year’s team is younger.
“The freshmen have really stepped up and stepped in to a lot of positive roles for us,” Novitsky said.
While it’s still early in the season, the freshmen are learning to be comfortable with themselves and the team. They’re still learning to get to know each other and trust each other, which is what they work on every week, according to coach Novitsky.
The Illini showed their effort to be the best team possible by working hard at meets and practices.