Swimming and diving sets 400 IM pool record, finishes with pair of wins

By Ross White

Taking a year and a half off from any event generally would cause a little bit of rust to build up and possibly even force an athlete into having a shaky performance the first time they competed in a meet.

None of this seemed to bother senior swimmer Jen Ivarson, who helped the Illinois swimming and diving team to a victory Friday by setting the Illinois State pool record in the 400 IM. Ivarson hadn’t swum the event in a meet in more a year and a half.

“It’s been a long time,” said Ivarson. “I wanted it. Over the summer I really trained hard (in the 400 IM), but I was not expecting to do that well the first time I swam it.”

Illinois traveled to Illinois State on Friday night and Southern Illinois on Saturday, winning 183-117 and 154-89, respectively.

“We came back well after traveling,” said head coach Sue Novitsky. “It gave (the team) a chance to gain experience when they were out of their comfort zone.”

Last season, the Illini finished with an overall 5-4 record in dual meets. With a 6-1 record this year, Illinois has already surpassed last season’s win total.

Ivarson and Novistky feel the team has improved on a level that can’t be measured by statistics or records.

“We’re a lot closer as a team,” Ivarson said. “We have really good freshmen, and we fit together really well.”

“We’re a lot more consistent overall,” Novitsky added. “Year to year we get stronger as they gain experience and continue to grow.”

One of the strengths of this year’s team is the number of swimmers and divers on the squad.

“Our depth definitely helped us,” Novitsky said. “At the Illinois State meet, I was able to try people in different events and (at the Southern Illinois meet) it was a big part of our success.”

While the team has significantly improved over last season, there are still some areas where it needs some extra work.

“We were terrible on the wall (on Friday),” Novitsky said. “We’re not going to be perfect. We just need to continue to focus and get a little bit better and a little bit sharper.”

Freshman diver Lauren Wismer continued her string of impressive diving victories this weekend, winning both the one-meter and three-meter dives at Illinois State and Southern Illinois.

The travel to and from each meet didn’t seem to affect the freshman.

“I just kept a positive attitude,” Wismer said. “I was happy with how I performed this weekend.”

Although she already has the school record in both of her events, Wismer feels she can still improve some elements of her dives.

“I can always work on my technique and board work,” said Wismer. “It’s just one of those things you work on your whole diving career.”