February 26, 2013

Individual performances come into focus at Midwest Invitational

The team took a backseat at the Midwest Invitational this weekend as the Maroons shift their focus toward individual qualification for the NCAA Championships next month.

In a field of eight, the men’s team finished fourth with 265 points while Emory took first with 531 points. On the women’s side, the South Siders placed third with 224 points. D-I UW–Milwaukee finished first with 597 points.

Despite that less than stellar team finish, Chicago had reason to be pleased with some strong individual performances.

“We did very well,” head coach Jason Weber said. “We didn’t have many [swimmers] compete at this meet, but more of the focus for us was on the swimmers who didn’t compete at UAA Championships and had rested and shaved for this meet. All of them performed really well.”

Because UAAs limit the number of swimmers per event, there were many members of the team who had to sit on the sideline during the conference championships. After months of training, these individuals were ready to race, and got their chance to finish out the season on a high note at the Midwest Invitational. First-years Gabriel Nathan, Brian Yan, and Joyce Lu all swam at the Invitational after resting through UAAs.

The Invite also served as a last-chance meet for those swimmers hoping to qualify for the D-III National Championships in Texas next month. With the NCAA Championships rapidly approaching, this meet was the final chance for many swimmers to achieve an NCAA time cut to compete at nationals.

“For our team, we had some women swim the 200-yard free to see if we could get a better aggregate time to qualify for our 800-yard free relay,” Weber said. “We had some good swims in that, particularly from first-year Karen Chu, and it looks like that relay will qualify now.”

The standout performer on the men’s side was third-year Eric Hallman. Hallman has already qualified for NCAAs, but got the opportunity to swim off events this weekend.

Hallman showed prowess in both breaststroke events, finishing second in the 100 breaststroke and third in the 200 breaststroke.

On the women’s team, fourth-year Kathleen Taylor finished second in the 400 IM, while second-year Elizabeth Millen took fourth in the same event. First-years Ciara Hu and Gabrielle Wimer also had good swims, with Hu taking second in the 200 butterfly and fifth in the 100 backstroke and Wimer finishing fourth in the 100 freestyle.

With the final meet before NCAAs now behind them, the swimmers that will be going to nationals continue to train hard, while the diving team is thinking about its last chance to qualify for NCAAs at the Diving Zones this weekend.

“We won’t know until the first week of March [how many qualify], as we have four divers competing at the NCAA Zone meet this weekend,” Weber said.

The diving team will be traveling to Grand Rapids, MI to compete at the NCAA Diving Zones this weekend.