SETTING THE SCENE: The University of Cincinnati swimming and diving squads face their last competition before conference championships when they travel to Lexington, Ky. for a three-way meet on Saturday, Feb. 2. The Bearcats will be matched up with Kentucky and Indiana in a meet set to begin at 11 a.m. in UK?s Lancaster Aquatic Center.
ABOUT THE OPPONENTS: The Indiana women?s squad brings a No. 19 national ranking into the meet, according to the most recent poll by the College Swim Coaches Association of America. The Hoosiers feature five swimmers ranked in the top 25 nationally in their respective events. Senior Susan Woessner (100 and 200 backstroke) and sophomore Sarah Fiden (500 and 1650 freestyle) lead the Hoosiers, each ranked in the top 20 in two events. Kentucky?s women?s squad has two swimmers ranked in the top 25 in senior Carolyn Rader (500 freestyle) and sophomore Shawna Sechrist (200 backstroke). On the men?s side, IU received seven votes in the latest coaches? poll and features two top 25 ranked swimmers. Junior David Schulze is ranked in the 200 breaststroke, while freshman Murph Halasz is in the top 25 in the 200 butterfly. For UK, two swimmers are listed in a pair of events. Junior Roger Watkins is seventh in the 100 breastroke and ninth in the 200 breaststroke, while sophomore Joey Faltraco is number eight in the 200 backstroke and 15th in the 400 IM.
SERIES? HISTORY: Dual events against Kentucky and Indiana have become a regular occurrence on the UC schedule. Unlike in previous years however, this season?s match-up marks the first time the Bearcats have met both teams in dual competition at the same meet. UC found the competition difficult last season as both the Hoosiers and Wildcats swept the Bearcats in dual meets. Against Indiana in 2001, the UC?s men?s squad fell 151-90, while the women were defeated 161-70. In a home meet against the Wildcats last season, UK scored a 128-107 victory on the men?s side and a 131-109 win in women?s competition.
NCAA TALK: With a clip of 4:46.66 in the 500 freestyle, senior Maria Oberg (Sjobo, Sweden/Klippans Gymnaneskola) became the first Bearcat to qualify for the NCAA Championships, making the automatic time standard by .05 seconds. Oberg has also earned provisional times in the 200 and 1650 freestyle events, allowing her to compete in all three events at the NCAA Championships March 21-23. On the men?s side, sophomore Scott Davison (Mission Viejo, Calif./Mission Viejo) and senior Ryan McNally (Mt. Vernon, Ind./Mt. Vernon) have both achieved provisional times in multiple events. Davison has recorded the marks in the 500 and 1650 freestyle, while McNally has the times in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly.
C-USA MEET ON THE HORIZON: The first-ever Conference USA Swimming and Diving Championships will be held Feb. 17-19 at the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis, Ind. All six of the C-USA women?s swimming teams will participate in the championship event. The meet will also feature an invitational format for the men?s teams in which the Bearcats will participate. Two sessions will be held each day with preliminary rounds beginning at 10 a.m. each day and the finals getting under way at 6 p.m.
CONFERENCE RANKINGS: Three individuals and one relay squad are at the top in their respective events in the latest rankings released by C-USA. Maria Oberg tops the charts in four categories, the 200 (1:48.93), 500 (4:46.66), 1000 (10:12.95) and 1650 (16:31.26) freestyle events. Senior Marein de Jong (Bussum, Netherlands/St. Vitus College) is also at the top of multiple events, ranking number one in the 50 (23.58) and 100 freestyle (51.41). Sophomore Louise Gowens (Essex, England/The Fitzwarc School) ranks first in the 200 butterfly (2:05.43), while the team of Oberg, de Jong, senior Jenny Ellis (Bowmanville, Ontario/Bowmanville) and junior Nelly Jorgensen (Helsingborg, Finland/Filbornaskolan) lead the way in the 200 freestyle relay (1:36.08).
COACHES? CHATTER: ?I think Kentucky and Indiana will be focused on each other because it?s such a big rivalry,? said Bearcat head coach Monty Hopkins. ? What we need to do in preparation for our conference meet in three weeks is to be competitive in races. This is our last chance to face competition before then and it?s good competition. There won?t be any easy wins. If it?s true that facing quality opponents gives you strength, then this will make us better as a team.?
SUPER SENIORS: Last Saturday?s meet against Kenyon marked the final home appearance for the Bearcats? 11 seniors. UC?s men?s senior swimmers are Michael Hewitt (West Chester, Ohio/Lakota West), Karl Hoalst (Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington), Kevin Kampschmidt (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle), Adam Lynch (Cincinnati, Ohio/Oak Hills) and Ryan McNally. Seniors dotting the UC women?s roster include Jaimi Armstrong (Toledo, Ohio/Notre Dame Academy), Julianne Curtin (Milford, Ohio/Milford), Marein de Jong, Jenny Ellis, Grandy Meyer (Cincinnati, Ohio/Princeton) and Maria Oberg.
LAST TIME OUT: Behind 13 first place efforts from the women?s team and seven from the men?s squad, the University of Cincinnati swimming and diving teams swept Division III national power Kenyon . The UC women?s team scored a convincing 181-79 victory, while the men edged Kenyon 133-129. On the women?s side, Marein de Jong made her Senior Day celebration one to remember as she took top honors in the 100 butterfly (56.79) and 50 (23.71) and 100 freestyle (51.74) events along with helping the 200 medley relay squad to a win as well. Maria Oberg and Shauna Conrad each picked up multiple victories, with Oberg winning the 200 backstroke (2:10.59) and 1000 freestyle and Conrad the 200 (1:56.41) and 500 freestyle (5:10.80). The men?s team was paced by Ryan McNally who scored wins in the 100 (48.87) and 200 butterfly (1:50.19), while helping the 200 medley relay squad to the top spot. Scott Davison and junior Stuart Willison (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster) were also multiple winners for UC, with Davison winning the 500 (4:39.70) and 1000 freestyle (9:20.10) events and Willison the 100 breaststroke (58.92) and the winning 200 medley relay squad. Freshman Carlo Piccio (Balcolool City, Phillippines/Mission Viejo) rounded out the list of UC winners, taking the 400 IM (4:04.84) in the closest race of the day, with a margin of victory of just .03.