Looking to live up to the reputation earned from last season’s success, men’s swimming and diving jump-started the season with a victory against Wheaton College this Saturday.
Cruising ahead of the competition with a final meet score of 127–73, the squad continued its undefeated streak in dual meets that spanned all of last season. With strong individual showings across the board, the Maroons have made a strong statement for the months to come.
“The outcome was what I expected, but it was a nice way to kick off the season,” head coach Jason Weber said. “The guys knew they were a better team, so I was worried that they would come out flat and that Wheaton would take advantage of that and make it close. There were a couple close races, but our guys pretty much dominated from start to finish.”
Promising to improve upon their performances last year, Chicago’s veterans led with strong times across the board. Fourth-years Shane Carlson and Alex Stabell pinned down their respective events, with Carlson seizing gold in the 200-yard IM with a time of 1:59.23 and the 500-yard freestyle with a 4:51.54 mark, and Stabell defeating his opponent in the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 2:03.24.
“I was happy with how our upperclassmen performed. Many of them worked extra hard over the summer and in the off-season, so they are in pretty decent shape for only a month into the season,” Weber said.
Saturday was the debut meet for a number of athletes. Making his first big showing was third-year transfer Tim Everett, who took top honors in two key events. He narrowly out-touched his opponent in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 2:01.99 and then surged from behind to claim the gold by a mere .08 seconds in the 200-yard free, posting a 1:49.28. Blasting off alongside Everett were first-years Nicolas Santoro and Marius Aleksa, finishing first and second, respectively, in the 50-yard free. Santoro finished with a 22.38 and Aleksa with a 22.39.
“Everett is a smart swimmer who will also provide some leadership to a young team,” Weber said. “We’ve also been weak in the sprint free events the last couple years so it was encouraging to see freshmen sprinters Santoro, and Aleksa put up some quick times.”
The Maroons took the gold in 11 of the meet’s 13 events, winning all but the 400-yard freestyle and the 200-yard breaststroke.
With the season opener in the bag, the Maroons now look ahead to IIT this Saturday at Ratner, where numbers have that South Siders heading into the meet as favorites. Once November kicks off, the South Siders will jump right into the Maroon Invitational on November 7 and 8.
Heading up the competition is Wash U, Chicago’s perennial archrival. After beating the Maroons last year by only 10 points, the team will be looking to get revenge on home turf. Chicago will look to build on their performance a year ago when a practically perfect regular season gave way to a fifth-place finish at the UAA championship, but a repeat of 2007–2008 will be difficult as the team faces one of the toughest schedules in the program’s history, according to Weber.
“The schedule is much tougher this year, with three Division-I teams, including Northwestern, and a Division-II team. We should still go undefeated versus all the D-III teams but I would say it’s unlikely that we go through our entire schedule undefeated like last year,” Weber said. “Our teams have continued to improve, and I wanted to make sure that our best swimmers have the opportunity to swim against better competition.”