Illinois anticipates another momentous season

Swim, dive team kick off in match against Indiana State

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Illinois anticipates another momentous season

Senior diver Ling Kuhn and the Illinois women’s swimming and diving team compete on the final day of the 2019 Big Ten Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships. The championships took place in Bloomington, Indiana, on Feb. 22.

Senior diver Ling Kuhn and the Illinois women’s swimming and diving team compete on the final day of the 2019 Big Ten Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships. The championships took place in Bloomington, Indiana, on Feb. 22.

Photo courtesy of Walt Middleton

Senior diver Ling Kuhn and the Illinois women’s swimming and diving team compete on the final day of the 2019 Big Ten Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships. The championships took place in Bloomington, Indiana, on Feb. 22.

Photo courtesy of Walt Middleton

Photo courtesy of Walt Middleton

Senior diver Ling Kuhn and the Illinois women’s swimming and diving team compete on the final day of the 2019 Big Ten Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships. The championships took place in Bloomington, Indiana, on Feb. 22.

By Angelle Cortes, Contributing Writer

The Illinois swim and dive team is coming off a 7-5 record and one NCAA post-season appearance in the 2018-19 season. In the upcoming season, they’re looking to keep improving race times and build on the momentum from last season.

“We were the 16th most improved team in the country in October, the 25th most improved team in the country in December, and we were the fourth most improved team in the Big Ten following championships in the spring,” said assistant coach Elliot McGill.

Consistency was key for the Illini last year, helping them improve on their times. The team is looking to continue dropping times and earning more points at big meets.

With 13 new freshmen joining the team this year, they still have a long way to go in the Big Ten, but McGill wants the new Illini to contribute as much as they can. All 13 freshmen know they won’t be breaking records right off the bat, but McGill wants to make sure they’re building on personal success each year.

This season Illinois loses diver Ling Kuhn, who graduated this past spring. She was the first Illini to make the NCAA Championships in platform diving.

Although several Illini had standout seasons last year, McGill said the focus is on the entire team. However, sophomore diver Taylor Shegos had an impressive freshman season.

Shegos was one of the only freshman divers in Illini history to score at the Big Ten Championship.

The team practices year-round for about 20 hours per week while also balancing school. Although training during the summer is optional for the team, many Illini still spent extra time in the pool. According to McGill, a third of the team are engineering majors, while another third are in business and accounting, with STEM majors making up the final third of the roster. Despite rigorous classes and responsibilities as student-athletes, the team maintains a 3.5 GPA overall.

“Our women are incredible,” McGill said. “They train just as much, just as hard as any other athlete here.”

The team began its season at the annual intrasquad Blue and Orange exhibition meet. The Blue team bested the Orange team 118-99 Saturday. Head coach Sue Novitsky led the Orange team while McGill championed the Blue. The meet took place at the ARC pool.

The official season will begin Friday, Oct. 11 against Indiana State University at home. Illinois’ first official home event marks one of two meets scheduled at the ARC pool, with the other against Illinois State and Southern Illinois Oct. 17.

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@AngelleCortes