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Northwestern swimming and diving defeats UChicago in first meet of 2024

The Wildcats took a short trip down to Chicago and won almost everything.

Northwestern Athletics

This past Saturday, Northwestern swimming and diving traveled to compete against neighboring DIII UChicago and dominated, with the women running away with a 221-63 victory and the men also winning 221-73. The women won each of the 16 events that they raced, while the men won all but one event contested.

Once again, all of Northwestern was in racing suits rather than practice suits, an uncommon strategy for dual meets but something the team has done all season under first-year head Rachel Stratton-Mills.

Women’s Recap

The Northwestern women were dominant across the board. Not only did they win every single contested event, but they went 1-2 in 14 of those events. In addition, there were also “podium sweeps” in three events for the Wildcats, where they took the top three spots.

Graduate student Ayla Spitz was again a star, showing off her range at this meet. She took first in the 1000-yard freestyle (9:58.17), 100 butterfly (53.46), and 100 free (49.64), with the former two events being won in personal best fashion. Notably, she was the only swimmer at this competition to win three different individual events.

Other double event winners included first-year Sydney Smith in the 200 free (1:49.01) and 200 individual medley (2:04.16), graduate student Markie Hopkins in the one and three-meter diving events, and sophomore Hana Shimizu-Bowers in the 200 fly (1:58.57) and 200 backstroke (2:00.05). Bowers’ 200 fly time was a season-best, and just over a second off her personal best time of 1:57.38.

Junior Justine Murdock led a 1-2-3 charge in the 100 back (54.37) while sophomore Lindsay Ervin did the same in the 50 free (22.98). First-year Maggie Papanicholas won her fourth 100 breaststroke race of this season with her win this past Saturday (1:01.30), and sophomore Inés Sancho claimed victory in the 200 breast (2:22.39).

Sophomore Mackenzie Lanning won her first-ever individual collegiate race at this meet, touching the wall first in the 500 free (5:05.04).

NU also took the top two spots in the 400 medley relay and the 200 free relay, with Murdock, Papanicholas, Smith and Ervin making up the winning quartet in the former event and Spitz, Ervin, first-year Amy Pan and senior Annika Wagner being on the top team for the latter event.

Men’s Recap

The men were similarly dominant compared to the women, though UChicago senior Jesse Ssengonzi did win the 100 butterfly (46.50) for his team. Ssengonzi is the defending DIII national champion in the 100 fly, and his time from Saturday was faster than his NCAA Championship-winning time of 46.68 from last season. In addition, he was also 0.04 seconds off of David Fitch’s DIII record.

Ssengonzi aside, this meet was all Northwestern. The Wildcats won every other event, going 1-2 in 12 of them and then 1-2-3 in seven of those 12 races.

The first-year duo of David Gerchik and Diego Nosack, as well as graduate student Ben Forbes, were the only three men with double victories. Gerchik won the 50 free (20.75) and 200 back (1:44.83), Nosack won the 200 fly (1:46.41) and 200 IM (1:48.81), while Forbes swept the middle distances with victories in the 200 (1:38.25) and 500 free (4:33.51).

Graduate student Andrew Martin set a personal best time to win the 1000 free (8:59.04), improving nearly five seconds from his previous personal best of 9:04.24. He has made tremendous leaps in this event recently, as he came into this season with a personal best time of 9:12.07. Currently, he is ranked 19th in Division I swimming for the event.

Also setting a best time was first-year Stuart Seymour, who went 44.43 to win the 100 free and beat his previous mark of 47.85 from just last season. Sophomore Matthew Lucky and senior Connor Morikawa hit season-bests in the 100 and 200 breast respectively, with Lucky going 54.17 and Morikawa going 1:58.65.

Other event winners included first-year Cade Duncan in the 100 back (48.93), first-year Adam Cohen in the one-meter diving event, and junior Alex Mo in the three-meter diving event. The Wildcat men took the top three spots in both the 400 medley and 200 free relay, with Gerchik, Lucky, Seymour and Duncan comprising the medley relay and Gerchik, first-year Connor Schuster, Duncan and first-year Aaron Baltaytis being a part of the free relay.

What’s Next?

The Wildcats will host Wisconsin on Jan. 20 at 11 a.m. for their first Big Ten dual meet matchup of the season. Notably, the Wisconsin women are ranked no. 13 in the the CSCAA’s latest top 25 poll.