The raw numbers from the swimming and diving teams’ meet with UW–Milwaukee this weekend weren’t pretty. And while the teams weren’t happy with their results, neither were they as upset as the scores might suggest.
The men and women both fell to visiting Milwaukee on Saturday. The D-I Panthers topped the men 206–94, and the women 208–92. For each of Chicago’s squads, the loss was the first in dual-meet competition this season, but in the long term, the meet could turn into a net gain.
Much as head coach Jason Weber predicted before the meet, Milwaukee was able to best the Maroons in nearly all of the day’s events. Among Chicago’s handful of winners was Becky Schmidt, who continued her outstanding first-year campaign with wins in one-meter and three-meter diving. Also on the women’s side, third-year Ellie Elgamal won the 200 butterfly, and first-year Tatum Stewart took first in the 100 butterfly.
For the men, second-years Marius Aleska and Nicolas Santoro teamed up with third-year James Schlabach and first-year Alan Chen for a first-place finish in the 400 freestyle. The men’s other winner was first-year Justin Yu, who got top honors in the 200 individual medley.
Although Chicago lost to the Panthers, the team took several lessons away from the defeat. Yu acknowledged that the defeat was disappointing and said that “the results show that as a team, we need to work harder.”
Milwaukee is comparable to the top D-III teams, like Emory, and facing them provides important preparation for the UAAs. The loss to the Panthers was the Maroons’ first and, although it was disappointing for the team, both Stewart and Yu agree that the loss was important for the future. “This meet helped the team understand the kind of mindset we will need when swimming against other fast swimmers in the future,” Stewart said.
“Having our egos deflated a bit really helps going into the championship season, as the underdog mentality never fails,” Yu said.
The benefits of this loss could be two-fold: A lopsided loss not only keeps the team humble, but it also accustoms the swimmers to competing against top-notch programs.
“While I don’t like losing, I like swimming the best competition we can,” Weber said.
The coach also pointed out that the past weekend’s meet came immediately on the heels of three weeks of intensive training, such that his teams were undoubtedly not in peak condition for the Panthers, which tempers the sting of the losses.
This weekend, the Maroons have another home meet against DePauw, which is ranked seventh in men’s and 25th in women’s, but then have two-and-a-half weeks away from competition before UAAs start at Emory February 17. The extended break will give Chicago time enough for both training and recuperative rest, and the fatigue should no longer be a factor when the teams travel to Atlanta.