Women’s swimming proved their strength this past weekend by defeating Lewis University 161–98 while setting new school records and posting provisional NCAA qualifying times in their last dual meet before the Thanksgiving holiday.
The squad’s split competition two weeks ago had mixed results, with the women at home defeating Lake Forest 200–63 and just barely falling to Grinnell 163–135, while a separate group of Maroons, which competed at Northwestern, was trumped by local D-I competition fromNorthwestern and UIC.
“I did not think we did too well at Northwestern,” said head coach Jason Weber. “The mental aspect of the meet made it a lot more difficult to compete. They were not used to starting behind, and that is definitely going to be tough for some to overcome.”
Yet, after the disappointing showing at Northwestern, the women displayed a quick recovery with their win over Lewis, in which the women showed they not only have what it takes to win, but also to set records. School records were broken by first-year Megan St. John in the 1,000-yard freestyle and the 1,650-yard freestyle with times of 10:42.44 and 12:41.75 respectively. First-year Tara Levens, a back-stroker, took note of St. John and also broke school records with times of 58.48 in the 100-yard backstroke and 2:08.92 in the 200-yard backstroke. Levens’s and St. John’s times were enough to meet NCAA provisional-qualifying standards. The relay teams also beat school records in the freestyle relays and the medley relays.
The pair won’t learn their national fate until the end of the season, when the number of automatically qualifying athletes has been finalized.
“I’m really proud the girls have beaten nine school records this year,” said Weber.
All told, Chicago took first in 11 of 14 events, losing only the 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard breaststroke, and the 200-yard freestyle relay. The victories included one-two punches in the 1,650- and 200-yard freestyles and the 200-yard butterfly, and a sweep of the top four spots in the 100-yard fly. In addition to Levens and St. John, first-years Jacqueline Trudeau and Laura Biery, second-year Ellie Elgamal, and third-year Cassie O’Neill all had first place results in individual events.
Looking back on the season so far, Weber is pleased with the women’s progress.
“We are well ahead of where we were last year. The NCAA cuts and all the records they have broken are a testament to that,” said Weber. He was also pleased with the strength of the first-year class, which has given the team more depth than last year.
Looking to the future, the women must prepare for the second half of the season, which may prove to be tougher than the first. The men and women will both have a training trip to Costa Rica during winter break, which Weber says may be difficult for those who rest during the first weeks of winter holidays.
“It will be eat, sleep, and swim, and for those who took a break, it is going to be tough for them,” said Weber.
The women hope to continue their streak in winning dual meets, but they have tough competition coming next quarter, in particular D-I UW–Milwaukee.
Weber’s goals for the women, however, remain simple.
“I just want them to go faster,” said Weber.