Qualifying for NCAAs is the goal at last chance meet

Chicago swimming and diving will compete at home for the final time this season.

By Andrew McVea

After a lengthy season, which saw Chicago go 4–1 in events at home, the Maroons will be competing in their final home meet this year. Today and tomorrow, the men’s and women’s teams will be competing in the Midwest Invitational held at the Ratner Athletics Center.

The South Siders are coming off of a strong showing at the UAA Championships last weekend, where the men placed second as a team and the women placed third, breaking 26 school records over the course of the weekend. Both teams have already qualified a majority of their swimmers for the upcoming national championships next month in Indianapolis, and many swimmers will not be competing in the Midwest Invitational this weekend.

“Our main focus will be on the swimmers that did not compete at UAAs as this will be their championships meet,” head coach Jason Weber said. “We will have others swimming, but it will either be for fun to get a best time in an off event or as a part of training for NCAAs.”

The Midwest Invitational also serves as a last-chance meet for many athletes to qualify for the national championships. To qualify in an event, swimmers can get a guaranteed place in the national meet by being faster than the A time standard. There is also a B time standard, and if not enough people meet the A standard, spots in the meet will be filled with swimmers meeting the B standard.

“Ideally, we would like to see swimmers who are on the bubble for NCAA qualification to improve their times and qualify for the meet,” said third-year captain Jenny Hill. “Team point totals are less significant at this meet, since other teams will be sending individuals to compete, as opposed to the entire rosters.”

Three Maroons will be swimming in hopes of qualifying for the national championships this weekend. Their competition from around the area, while perhaps not as high quality as at the UAA meet or previous events, all should be hovering around the time standards, so it should be a competitive and close meet. However, the South Siders will be focusing more on the clock than on the other teams.

“We’re not thinking about the other competition at this meet,” Weber said. “It may help push us to swim faster but scoring points and winning this meet is not a factor. The teams that attend this meet are here because of the same reasons we’re competing: opportunity for non-conference swimmers to compete and to get NCAA cuts.”

For those not competing in this meet, the focus is now on the DIII National Championships which will be from March 19–22. On both the men’s and women’s team, over 20 athletes have already qualified for the event.

“The group of around 20 athletes who have already qualified for NCAAs are back to training hard, while the other groups are tapering and fine-tuning,” Hill said.

The Midwest Invitational will begin today with the 200 freestyle relay at 6:00 p.m. and will continue tomorrow for most of the day starting at 11:00 a.m.