The Maroons started their season on Saturday by hosting an ultra-competitive meet against Denison, Northwestern, and University of Illinois–Chicago. Chicago faced an elevated level of competition since Northwestern and UIC are both Division I, while Denison comes in as one of the top-ranked teams in Division III on both the men’s and women’s sides. Even with difficult competition, the Maroons relished in the opportunity.
Despite going up against powerhouse squads, it was a slew of rookies that led Chicago off the starting blocks in their debut collegiate meet.
“Going into the meet, I was feeling excited and pumped to swim, not only because it was our first meet of the season, but also because we had the opportunity to race some really fast swimmers from other top teams,” third-year Maya Scheidl said.
The Maroons ended the day with seven top-three finishers. On the men’s side, first-year Alexander Farrell made an impressive collegiate debut, collecting four of the Maroons’ top seven finishes. His first-year classmates, Michael Todd and Stephen Park, also finished in the top three for the 200-yard medley and 200-yard butterfly, respectively.
“I’m extremely proud of the first-years for finishing strong in their first college meet, and I think we have set a good starting point for the rest of the season,” Scheidl said.
Second-year Connor Turkatte echoed similar sentiments.
“We competed against teams that many people consider to be faster, but we all stepped up to the plate and did our best…This was their first real meet in college, and the [first-years] met this challenge head on.”
Farrell finished second in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 46.49, and second in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 21.30, just edging out fourth-year Thomas Meek who finished with a time of 21.61.
Farrell then teamed up with second-year Alex Lin, Turkatte, and Meek to place third in the 200-yard medley. To add onto top-tier finishes, Farrell also joined Meek, third-year Jonathan Simoneau, and Park to finish third in the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 1:56.18. Meek, a veteran swimmer for the South Siders, was a part of last year’s national championship 400-yard freestyle race.
On the women’s side, second-year Melissa Bischoff finished second in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 58.16. Scheidl finished third with a time of 52.79.
“Going forward, I think the team is looking to swim strong in our dual meets, especially the one against Wash U, in order to get the momentum for conference champs in a few months,” Scheidl said.
The Maroons look to gain some momentum as they head into their meet next weekend against Wheaton on Saturday. The meet will begin at 11 a.m. at Wheaton.