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Highlights from Northwestern swimming and diving at the 2023 U.S. Open Championships

The Wildcats took a break from collegiate competition to get some long-course racing in.

Northwestern Athletics

Along with Olympic champions such as Caeleb Dressel and Katie Ledecky, the 2023 Toyota U.S. Open Swimming Championships featured seven Northwestern swimmers.

The U.S. Open is held in a long course 50-meter pool (the same format as the Olympic Games), unlike all of Northwestern’s collegiate competitions this season, which are held in short course 25-yard pools. While this meet is not an NCAA-sanctioned meet, times from the competition can be converted into short course yard times with a special conversion formula and used for NCAA Championship qualification.

Junior Connor Morikawa had a strong swim in the men’s 200 breaststroke, finishing 19th overall in a personal best time of 2:15.52. He also placed 41st in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.24). His 200 breast time is a 1.48-second improvement from his previous best set in April 2022 and also gets him under the 200 breast qualification time for the 2024 U.S. Olympic trials happening next June. This marks the second time Morikawa has made the Olympic trials, previously competing in the 2021 edition of the meet.

Morikawa now joins a growing list of Northwestern swimmers qualified for U.S. Olympic trials. That list also includes graduate student Kevin Houseman and first-years Cade Duncan and Diego Nosack.

Graduate student Ayla Spitz also hit U.S. Olympic trials cut times at the U.S. Open, but since she represents Israel internationally, she is not eligible to swim at the meet. She qualified for the ‘B’ finals of the women’s 200-meter freestyle and 100-meter backstroke, but because the two races came on the same night, she opted to swim only the former event in the final and finished 15th overall (2:00.73). She also placed 52nd in the 100 free with a time of 56.80.

Spitz’s time of 1:01.71 in the preliminary heats of the 100 back was a personal best time, taking 0.04 off her previous best from December 2019.

Another top performer at the U.S. Open was Northwestern alum and 2023 World Championships bronze medalist Sophie Angus, who currently trains at the High-Performance Center in Ontario, Canada — the country she represents internationally. She won the ‘B’ final of the women’s 100 breast (1:08.86), placing 9th overall. She also finished 22nd in the ‘C’ final of the 200 breast (2:33.72).

Other Highlights:

  • Freshman David Gerchik placed 17th in the men’s 100 back (55.74) and 200 back (2:00.73).
  • Houseman placed 58th in the men’s 100 breast (1:04.14).
  • Junior Justine Murdock finished 16th in the women’s 100 back (1:02.49) and 31st in the 200 back (2:16.52).
  • Sophomore Hana Shimizu-Bowers finished 20th in the women’s 200 butterfly (2:15.67).

Northwestern will return to collegiate competition on Jan. 13, when it will face the DIII University of Chicago in an away dual meet.