According to the College Swimming Coaches Association of America, both the men’s and women’s squads are a part of the elite; both teams are currently ranked No. 8 in the nation, meaning their talent and hard work can compete with the best of the best on a national level. Both teams advanced their status as top contenders this weekend by taking the gold at their very own Midwest Invitational. This placing exceeded previous performances at the meet, as last year the women earned second while the men placed third.
The Midwest Invitational brought top competition to the South Side, with Wash U, UW–Milwaukee, Olivet, and Case Western all making the trip to compete. Wash U stands at No. 9 for both the men’s and women’s squads, while the Case Western men are No. 20 and their women No. 21. Topping off the field of tough competition, DI UW–Milwaukee had previously edged the Maroon men and women in a head-to-head meet earlier this season.
This daunting lineup mattered little come time to compete. The Maroon women earned 503 points, taking their revenge against UW–Milwaukee who came in second with 418 points. The men’s side defeated conference rival Wash U, which ended with 474 points, in a dominant fashion with 538 points.
On the women’s side, young blood led the Maroons, while veterans provided added depth. First-year Christina Cheng placed first in the 100-yard breaststroke while fourth-year Jen Law came flying in right behind her for second place. Second-year Florina Yang also earned first in the 100-yard butterfly, with first-year Daria Wick coming in .43 seconds after her to grab second. Fourth-year Ciara Hu took first in the 400-yard individual medley with a time of 4:41.32. First-year Hannah Eastman, second-year Emma Madden, and third-years Alison Wall and Megan Wall all earned second in their respective events to provide a well-balanced scoring performance.
“I think that this past weekend was more than just a win,” Law said. “Having our Midwest meet before UAAs this year was so good because it really got us excited for our upcoming conference meet this week. There were some amazing swims at Midwest and the team atmosphere on the pool deck was unlike anything we’ve seen so far this season. The excitement is tangible and I believe our team is more than ready to get up and race at Rochester.”
Among the men, four first-place finishes were earned on the day. The Maroons took the top three places in the 100-yard breaststroke, with second-year Alex Lin finishing in 59.05 for the win and third-year Rolland Lee coming in at 59.08 to grab silver. Fourth-year James Taylor and first-year Keenan Novis took first in the 200-yard breaststroke and 400-yard individual medley, respectively, while the 400-yard medley relay earned first as well. Four second-place finishes went to the Maroons, and the squad walked away with a dominant win.
With UAA Championships starting on Wednesday of this week, these victories come at a crucial time for the South Siders. Chicago is hoping this win will provide momentum heading into the conference meet.
“We’ve been working harder than ever this season and the performances at the Midwest Invite just go to affirm that. We had some fantastic swims this weekend, which only gives us more confidence going into UAAs. Team morale has never been higher and we’re ready to dominate in Rochester this weekend,” Madden said.
The UAA is one of the toughest conferences in the country; both the men’s and women’s side boasting seven teams on the conference’s eight teams ranked in the top 25 in the nation. The meet begins on Wednesday in Rochester and will continue through Saturday.