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Swim and Dive: Wildcats sweep Penn State and Iowa on Senior Day

The ‘Cats dominated in their only home meet this season.

2017 NCAA Div I Men’s Swimming & Diving Championships Photo by A.J. Mast/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

After losing to top-10 programs Indiana and Michigan to begin the season, Northwestern swimming and diving came back flying against Penn State and Iowa. The Wildcats didn’t drop a single competition, beating Iowa 183-117 and Penn State 247-53 on the men’s side. The No. 22 ranked women beat Iowa 225-75 and Penn State 242-58.

The Wildcats won 25 of the 32 events, but as any competitive swimmer will tell you, it’s not all about winning. Each school can send up to four swimmers per event, and the top five individual finishers or top three relay finishers will earn points. Points in swim meets are scored based on the overall order of the swimmers, with more points scored the better the position. So while finishing first gives you the most points for an individual, a team that finishes first and fifth place will actually lose to a school that placed second, third and fourth.

It was a very good day for the Northwestern breaststrokers. Senior Sophie Angus went 58.92 in the 100 breaststroke, which broke her own school record of 58.96 and the pool record of 59.76. Angus’ time places her fourth in the event this season. In the same race, Hannah Brunzell took second with a 59.46, good for 12th fastest in the event across the NCAA. On the other side of the pool in the same event, sophomore Kevin Houseman broke the 52-second barrier for the first time, touching in at a blazing fast 51.79, which places him third in the nation. Houseman’s swim lowered the pool record, previously 52.79, and also threatens the school record, a 51.56 by Mike Alexandrov from 2007.

In the butterfly, Miriam Guevara posted a time of 52.24 in the 100 and a 1:55.73 in the 200, breaking the pool record in both events. Emma Lepisova won the 100 backstroke with a 53.19 and the 200 with a 1:55.82. Senior Maddie Smith won the 50 and 100 freestyle with times of 22.45 and 49.34 but saved her best for last, leading off Northwestern’s winning 400-freestyle relay with a 48.24. Iowa’s Alyssa Graves beat NU’s Lola Mull early on in the 1000-yard freestyle, but Mull came back and beat Graves by about 0.8 seconds in the 500-yard freestyle. That 1000-yard freestyle was the only event the Northwestern women lost.

Northwestern swept on the boards too. Jaye Patrick won the 1-meter with a score of 294.80, and Markie Hopkins took the 3-meter with 328.45. For the men, Henry Schirmer won the 1-meter with 305.55 and Yohan Eskrick-Parkinson the 3-meter with 336.05

On the men’s side back in the pool, Manu Bacarzio picked up wins in the 100 and 200 backstroke with times of 46.74 and 1:41.84, respectively, moving him to 17th and 12th nationally. Marcus Mok won the 200 breaststroke in 1:55.83, senior DJ Hwang the 1000 freestyle in 9:08.50 and senior Connor LaMastra the 200 butterfly in 1:45.48.

Iowa rallied though, with Aleksey Tarasenko winning both the 50 and 100 freestyle for the Hawkeyes. Mateusz Arndt won the 500 freestyle in 4:22.05, and Andrew Fierke out-touched DJ Hwang for second place, 4:26.25 to 4:26.34. The Hawkeyes carried that momentum, winning the final two individual events — Sergey Kuznetsov won the 100 butterfly with a 47.60, and Anze Ferse Erzen took the 400 individual medley in 3:47.95

But it wasn’t enough. In the 400 freestyle relay, Iowa took an early lead, with Aleksey Tarasenko’s 43.54 to Aleksa Bobar’s 44.35. But Andrew Zhang was able to bring the ‘Cats within striking distance after swimming the best split of the field — 43.51. The teams were even through the third leg, but senior Liam Gately was able to bring it home for the Wildcats, touching at 2:56.12 to Iowa’s 2:56.63.

In total, the Wildcats broke five pool records, the 100 breast school record and hit 25 NCAA-B cuts, seven of which were below the invited time for championships last year. Nineteen swims were personal records for individual swimmers too. The ‘Cats will head up to Madison on February 5 to take on Wisconsin and Illinois to close out their season.