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Swim and Dive: Northwestern sweeps Miami (FL) and Southern Illinois in home opener

For the first time this school year, college swimming took place in the Norris Aquatic Center.

Northwestern Athletics

Last Saturday, Northwestern’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams hosted the University of Miami and Southern Illinois University in a home opener tri-meet at the Norris Aquatics Center. The women won 181.5 to 112.5 against Miami and 197 to 102 against SIU, while the men beat SIU 207 to 89 (Miami does not have a men’s swim team).

Similar to its meet against Miami (Ohio) on Oct. 14, Northwastern wore racing suits instead of training suits typically worn at dual or tri-meets, which tend to make a swimmer’s times faster.

Full results for the competition can be found here.

Women’s recap

After a rough weekend on the road where they lost to Cincinnati and fought an uphill battle to beat Miami (Ohio), the Northwestern women bounced back a week later to take down both of their opponents at home.

In total, the Wildcats won 10 out of 16 events on the women’s side. They got off to a rough start when their 200-yard medley relay lost to Miami (FL) by over two seconds but controlled the rest of the meet after that.

Fifth-year Markie Hopkins (1-meter diving, 3-meter diving), fifth-year Ayla Spitz (200 freestyle, 500 freestyle) sophomore Hana Shimizu-Bowers (1000 freestyle, 200 butterfly) and sophomore Linsday Ervin (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle) all took two event wins each, while junior Justine Murdock won the 200 backstroke. To cap off the meet, Northwestern won the 400 free relay by virtue of Spitz overcoming a 1.31-second deficit to run down Miami’s Jane Fitzgerald during the final 100 yards of the race. Spitz’s split time of 48.67 on that relay was the fastest in the entire field, and it was also her fastest 100-free relay split since the 2020 Pac-12 Championships — back when she was a freshman swimming at the University of California.

Spitz, the Northwestern graduate transfer who set season-best times in both of her individual races and also swam the butterfly leg of the 200-medley relay, has impressed so far in her time in Evanston. She’s primarily a mid-distance freestyler who hasn’t raced sprint freestyle at a big meet individually since high school, so the fact that she put up an impressive time on a sprint freestyle relay this meet means a lot for NU, which lost many of its relay pieces from last season.

Times-wise, several Wildcats were faster than they were a week ago. Ervin and Shimizu-Bowers set season-bests in all of the events that they won, while Murdock swam a season-best by over a second in the 200 back. Shimizu-Bowers was notably over nine seconds faster than she was against Miami-Ohio in the 1000 free and over two seconds faster in the 200 fly, while Ervin went under 23 seconds for the first time this season in the 50 free (22.71).

Men’s recap

The Northwestern men continued their streak of dominance that they started the week before, scoring over 200 points while holding their opponents to double-digits. Like the women, they started out their meet with a loss in the 200 medley relay, but then they went on to win 12 out of their 16 events.

Sophomore Tona Zinn (200 fly, 200 IM) and fifth-year Andrew Martin (200 free, 500 free) were the two double winners for NU, while other individual event winners included freshman Adam Cohen (three-meter diving), freshman Diego Nosack (1000 free), freshman David Grechik (100 back), fifth-year Kevin Houseman (100 breast), freshman Ryan Augustine (one-meter diving), freshman Cade Duncan (100 free), junior Tyler Lu (200 back) and senior Connor Morikawa (200 breast). Again, similar to the women, the Wildcat men won the 400 free relay to cap the meet, holding off Southern Illinois by around half a second.

The freshmen class was especially impressive at this meet, as four different first-years took event wins. Duncan continues to be the team’s best sprinter, clocking a 19.48 50 free split on the 200 medley relay to get under 20 seconds for the first time as a college swimmer. He also swam a time of 43.87 in the 100 free, which is a season-best by 0.46 seconds. Nosack, Grechik, Morikawa, Zinn (only in the 200 fly, as he didn’t swim the 200 IM at any other meet), and Houseman all swam faster in their winning events than they did against Miami (Ohio).

Houseman in particular clocked a time of time of 53.05 in the 100 breast, which ranks him as the seventh-fastest swimmer in the NCAA for the race as of Oct. 22. He is currently the only Northwestern swimmer ranked in the nation’s top ten for an event.

What’s next?

Overall, there was nothing super big to take away from Northwestern’s meet last weekend. The decision to wear racing suits two meets in a row is interesting, considering that most swim teams don’t suit up at dual or tri-meets. Arizona State, the No. 1 ranked men’s swim team right now, is a notable exception — they’ve suited up for every one of their meets so far this season and have been dominating the national leaderboards on the men’s side. It’s worth noting that new Northwestern head coach Rachel Stratton-Mills previously worked as an associate head coach at ASU.

Northwestern’s next competition is their midseason invite: the Purdue Invitational, which runs from Nov. 16 to 18. Expect swimmers from across the country to swim considerably faster at midseason invites, as they are important benchmarks in the college swimming season and often the first opportunity for swimmers to hit NCAA qualification times. The Purdue Invite should give us a better look at what trajectory Northwestern is headed toward this season, as well as how it compares to teams across the Big Ten and the entire NCAA.