January 8, 2015

Maroons look to make waves at Chicago Invitational

The South Siders will host nine schools from across the Midwest at the Chicago Invitational today and tomorrow at the Myers-McLoraine pool. Expectations are high as the men’s team is currently ranked No. 12 in the nation, while the women’s squad is ranked No. 10. However, with Wash U and Emory both ranked above the men’s and women’s teams and NYU also ranked above the men’s team, the UAA will be as competitive as ever as the championship is about a month away.

The Maroons are ready to return to competition after a six-week hiatus since their strong performance in their most recent tilt, the Phoenix Fall Classic in November.

“Our last meet was the Phoenix Fall Classic and there were tons of new NCAA B-cuts, not to mention new pool and team records,” said first-year swimmer Miriam Benjamin. “We are very excited to continue our success this weekend.”

First-year swimmer Melissa Bischoff, for example, broke the school and pool records while also qualifying for the NCAA Championship in the 100-yard backstroke at the Phoenix Fall Classic. On the men’s side, fourth-year diver Matt Staab took home a first- place win in the three-meter dive.

Despite a six-week break since their last competition, the men and women have been hard at work over winter break during their annual training trip. This year, the location was Florida.

“I went into the trip expecting to be totally exhausted by the workouts, and although they were definitely tough, we had plenty of time in between to hang out in a hammock or go kayaking,” Benjamin said. “I think we really did bond well as a team over the course of the week, and I know the hard work we put in will show in our results this weekend and at UAAs.”

It helps that this meet is at home in Hyde Park, too.

“It’ll be nice to compete again,” Benjamin said. “There’s always lots of positive energy on deck at home meets, so I’m sure that’ll carry us through this weekend as well.”

That home-pool advantage could really prop the South Siders up, especially as players try to execute their best times for the UAA Championship in February. With a season that started in late October and will conclude at the end of March with the NCAA Championship, the Maroons are just hitting the halfway mark of their intensely long season.

“The Chicago Invitational is a great chance for us to both mentally and physically prepare for conference championships. It will teach us what we need to work to improve on for conference both as individuals and as an overall team,” fourth-year diver Sofia Gross said.

The Chicago Invitational will begin on Friday at 6 p.m. and continue through Saturday, starting at 10 a.m. at the Myers-McLoraine pool in Ratner Athletics Center.