The men’s and women’s swim teams made a splashing debut Saturday, with both teams defeating Wheaton in the first dual meet of the season.
The men beat Wheaton easily by a score of 168–37, while the women ran neck-in-neck with the Thunder, beating them out narrowly in a 105–100 victory.
The men’s team brought on 12 new recruits, and while the loss of graduating fourth-years may have weakened the teams, head coach Jason Weber feels the new team has greater depth, as evidenced by the win against Wheaton.
“Every event that was won was won by a different swimmer, which goes to show the depth of the team,” Weber said.
Fourth-year Brian Young took the top spot in the 200-yard backstroke, and second-years Marius Aleksa and Nicholas Santoro were victorious in the 50-yard freestyle and 200-yard breaststroke, respectively. First-year Justin Yu performed well in his first meet and won the 100-yard freestyle. Chicago also won both men’s relays, the 400-yard freestyle, and the 400-yard medley.
The women’s team welcomes 11 new members this season, but was handicapped this weekend by the absence of eight swimmers who were out with injury or illness.
“I knew this was going to be a tough meet for them,” Weber said.
Luckily, second-year Tara Levens was able to pull through at the last minute and not only won her individual event, the 200-yard backstroke, but also swam the first legs of both relays. Levens’ strong leads helped the women win both relays and, ultimately, the meet.
“My split leading off the medley relay was only one-tenth of a second off an NCAA ‘B’ cut and is faster than anything I went in season last year. It definitely looks like it should be a great year,” Levens said.
Weber said he was encouraged by the sense of excitement surrounding this year’s teams.
“More people came back to school in shape and with more motivation,” said Weber. “I think that just missing the top three at the UAAs didn’t sit well with them, and they want to make it to NCAAs.”
Levens echoed Weber’s thoughts.
“I would love to have our team finish undefeated in dual meets and place in the top three at UAAs. Personally, I am shooting for top three finishes in my events at UAAs and hopefully making finals at Nationals,” she said.
While both teams are setting their sights on lofty goals, no one is under the impression that they will be easy to achieve. The Maroons have a difficult dual meet schedule that will see them going up against top D-III teams like Kalamazoo, Carthage and DePauw, as well as a D-I team, UW–Milwaukee.