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Swimming: Women continue their tear while men still seek a spark

A quad meet at Northwestern played host to some big time takedowns.

It was a cold couple of days in the water for Purdue, Minnesota and Iowa this past weekend, when they clashed with Northwestern’s Women Swimming and Diving team at a quad meet.

In the January edition of the CSCAA Coaches Poll, the Golden Gophers (34 votes) ranked one spot ahead of the Wildcats (30 votes), coming in at No. 25 with NU just four votes behind them. Purdue and Iowa both entered the weekend competition with no ballots cast in their favor.

Headlined by a record-setting seven Norris Aquatic Center bests, the women stepped up their game against a steep slate of opponents. Lola Mull (1000 Free), Ashley Strouse (200 Free), Lindsay Ervin (50 Free) and three relay teams (200 Medley Relay, 800 Free Relay, 400 Free Relay) all set pool records with remarkable times.

Northwestern outswam Iowa with the most ease, crushing the Hawkeyes, 269-81. Team efforts, especially in the relays, made it easy for NU to fend off the Iowa squad. The ‘Cats also took down Purdue, 237-115. Consistently great performances from Strouse helped keep the Boilermakers at bay. Against Minnesota — the most anticipated competitor in the event — domination in the freestyle category propelled the Wildcats to a 47-point win, 200-153.

In the men’s lanes, the water was a bit more choppy for the ‘Cats. Only two swimmers on Northwestern’s end of the pool, Tyler Lu and Ben Miller, managed to walk away with individual victories.

Prior to the weekend’s races, the unit had managed to stay just above 0.500, notching a 3-2 record in their first five meets. Against Minnesota and Purdue (Iowa didn’t compete in the men’s division), the team’s record worsened to 3-4. Having lost what had been their most recent faceoff against Wisconsin last week, the ‘Cats’ pair of defeats at home extended their winless streak to three.

Lu was the brightest spot for Northwestern, stroking his way to two first-place finishes and a second-place result. Lu, a sophomore, earned those honors via the 100 Back, 200 IM and 200 Back, respectively. Miller also propelled his way to a win in the 200 Butterfly, making him undefeated in his last four races in the event.

Neither man’s efforts were enough, as NU suffered a narrow, 11-point loss to Purdue and a lopsided 91-point defeat to Minnesota.

On the boards, the purple guys couldn’t make a splash on the first-place podium. A duo of divers, Henry Schirmer and Alex Mo, nabbed third-place finishes in their respective events — the 3-meter and 1-meter.

Markie Hopkins was able to grab a silver finish for the ‘Cats in the Women’s 1-meter event.

Now, both squads look toward the B1G Ten Championships. The men and women’s meets are staggered a week apart (Feb. 15-18 and Feb. 22-25), with the women competing first. The women’s team is 2-1 in conference play, while the men have yet to snatch a win (0-2) in the Big Ten.