January 5, 2012

South Siders aim to continue dominant season against Kalamazoo

The women’s swimming and diving squad followed last year’s strong campaign with an undefeated start to their 2011–2012 season, and barring disastrous luck, the layoff between the fall and winter halves of their season will not stop them from big-time success come championship time.

“We’ve done really well,” sixth-year Head Coach Jason Weber said. “I think this is our best season yet.”

The women’s team is ranked ninth nationally among DIII schools and second in the UAA, behind only Emory, who is ranked first nationally.

Last year, the women’s squad finished second in the UAA Championships and sent six to the NCAA meet, including All-American diver Becky Schmidt, who finished seventh in the three-meter dive. Each NCAA qualifier from last year has returned for the current season.

“We want to keep training hard and continue to improve,” said Weber. “Hopefully we’ll qualify more people for the NCAAs.”

Highlights of the season so far have included dominating victories over Illinois Tech and Wash U. The latter meet saw freshman Bizzy Millen win a UAA Athlete of the Week award for victories in the 100-yard freestyle (54.56 seconds) and the 200-yard freestyle (1:57.97). In addition, the team placed first out of 10 teams in the Phoenix Fall Classic.

After the first half of the season, the swim team went on what Weber calls a “winter changeup.”

“It’s the team’s toughest training of the year,” Weber said. “The swimmers were responsible for keeping themselves in shape over the break, and those who continue to train hard during break tend to put up faster times in the second half.”

Weber attributes the team’s continuing improvement and impressive success to a mixture of talent and the team’s culture.

“The recruiting pool seems to get better every year,” Weber said, “and we’ve really come together as a team; everyone feels accountable to each other.”

The team’s slate for the rest of the year includes home fixtures against Kalamazoo, DePauw, and DI UW-Milwaukee. In addition, the Maroons will host the Chicago Invitational and the Midwest Invitational.

With a deep, balanced squad that includes a promising freshman class, the Maroons will keep their eyes set on February and the UAA Championship, and, for the very best, the NCAA meet in March, where they certainly will not be out of place.

Chicago hosts Kalamazoo at Ratner this Saturday at 1 p.m.