The University of Chicago swimming and diving team will host the Phoenix Fall Classic at the Ratner Center this weekend, as participants from DIII schools throughout the Midwest come to prove they have the ability to swim and dive with the best the area has to offer. This is the first of three invitational meets Chicago will host this year.
“Having the Classic at home absolutely makes a difference,” second-year Abby Erdmann said. “Not having to travel anywhere leaves us a lot more energy to put into our races, and being familiar with the pool definitely gives you a lot more confidence.”
Erdmann is the defending national champion in the 200-yard butterfly.
Last year, Chicago placed first out of 10 teams that participated in the meet, and it looks to repeat that performance this weekend.
“In terms of goals, for myself and everyone else, I hope we can beat our times that we swam at last year’s Classic,” said fourth-year diver Kevin Steffes.
The Maroons are coming off a tough loss to Wash U but have attempted to stay focused and make strides in between meets. While the men’s team was just edged out by the Bears 154–145, the women’s side lost by a larger margin of 179–120. With four months left in their season, the South Siders have plenty of time to find their stride. Thus far this season, Chicago has fallen to Wash U and Denison while earning a victory over regional rival Wheaton.
“Since our last meet, we’ve really been focusing on the little things that go into a race that add up to make a big difference,” Erdmann said.
The diving squad echoed this sentiment.
“The dive team has put in a lot of work these past few weeks, with a lot of people getting a lot of their more difficult dives off, so I think we are all going into this weekend excited and hoping to post at least a few qualifying scores!” Steffes said.
Relays will play a big part in team morale this weekend.
“This weekend my focus is on the relays, because I always find those races to be the most exciting and meaningful to the team and it is easier to swim faster when other people are directly relying on me,” second-year Maya Scheidl said. She has swum freestyle and medley relays so far this season, along with individual freestyle races.
The meet also serves as an opportunity to set qualifying times and scores for the postseason.
“A lot of people’s goals are to start getting some B-cuts and qualifying times for NCAA,” said Steffes. “The same goes for the diving squad. I haven’t been able to secure a qualifying score for zones yet, so I am looking at this weekend as one of my biggest opportunities of the quarter to do so.”
This is the Maroons’ final meet for the quarter. The team will take its annual training trip over winter break and resume competition at the Chicago Invitational on January 9.
The Phoenix Fall Classic kicks off at 6 p.m. on Friday and continues throughout the weekend at the Myers-McLoraine pool.