By David Duecker
Last time the Horizon League Conference meet was hosted at Cleveland State University it was held without finals and had to be moved to Akron because of a burst water pipe. It was a logistical nightmare that the seniors this year were a part of as freshman three years ago. Still, the meet continued that week and had fast swimming and quality times without the prelim/final format. This year, there have already been some impressive performances in the conference, a total of 3 league records broken – 2 relay and 1 individual – all on the women’s part. Let’s hope that it continues to the conference meet that will stay at Busbey Natatorium for the entire weekend.
The men’s 2010 conference meet was dominated by individual performances, 3 individuals notching 3 wins each – Jakub Dobies (CSU), Mark deSwardt (CSU), and Brain Anderson (UIC). Dobies is now graduated but Anderson (Sr.) and deSwardt (Jr.) are back and look to defend their titles. A total of 9 out 14 events will feature the returning champion vying to defend their title.
Look to deSwardt to protect his titles in the 1000 and 1650. He has won both events since his freshman year in 2009. As for his 3rd event, deSwardt swam the 400IM last year and won but swam the 500 and won in 2009. This year he has the fastest times of the season in both those events so might chose either one.
Anderson is the other returning triple event winner from last year; which also led him to receive swimmer of the meet honors. He will aim to defend his titles in the 50, 100, and 200 Free. He will be challenged though by Jakub Kalowinski from UWM and Hermanus Botha from WSU. Jakub has the fastest times yet this year in the 50 and 100 while Botha claims the 200.
Another dominant performer to return from last year is Steve Yemm from UIC. His performance in the 100 Fly and 100 Back were impressive and resulted in one conference record – 100 Fly. Yemm has the fastest time yet this year in the 100 Fly but in the 100 Back Yemm will have a pair of UWM backstrokers – Kyle Trekla and Matt Kluckzinski – right on his toes. Last year, the two UWM swimmers finished 2, 3 in the event touching 0.3s and 0.8s behind Yemm and this year have the fastest 2 times of the season.
Similar to last year, the team championship is going to be close. Last year Milwaukee won by 58 points against CSU. Milwaukee returns the most points and appears to have the upper hand but don’t count out CSU or UIC.
On the women’s side, Daniel Wegner will be aiming to make her final stamp in the distance free races. Now a senior, Wegner has won the 1000 Free and 1650 Free since her freshman year in 2008 and last year broke through in the 500 earning a win there too. In her route to winning 3 individual titles last year, Wegner set league records in all three races, crushing the previous marks. The 1000 Free record she already had claim to but the 500 and 1650 had been standing since 1995.
Krystyna Wieczerzak (WSU) another triple event winner from last year will look to defend her titles in the backstroke events as well as 400 IM. Wieczerzak has won the 200 Backstroke and 400 IM for the last two years but will certainly be challenged by Joanna Olsen from CSU in the 400 IM. Olson broke Wieczerzak’s league record in the 400 IM that Wieczerzak set in 2009.
Half of the women’s individual event top times are taken by underclassmen. In addition to Olson’s top mark in the 400IM, the sophomore currently has the fastest times in the 200 IM as well as 200 Fly. Her sophomore teammate, Alice Sommerville, also claims 3 top times so far this year – 50 Free, 100 Free, and 100 Fly.
Green Bay will be aiming to win their 7th straight championship. Though they have only two of the conference’s top times this season, one of them is the new league record in the 400 Medley Relay and they are a deep team that always shows up to swim fast at conference. Watch for UWM, WSU, and CSU all trying to seize points in what will be a close women’s chase for the team title.
The conference meet starts Wednesday evening with the 200 Free Relay, 1000 Free, 200 Medley Relay at Busbey Natatorium, Cleveland OH.