Swimming teams look to rebound after close loss

Billy Rutledge

The WKU swimming and diving teams are using a tough loss from two weeks ago as motivation as they head to Cincinnati for a meet this weekend.

The men’s and women’s teams each fell to Northwestern on Oct. 25 — the men fell 161-139 while the Lady Toppers were edged 151-145.

The difference was closer than the score appears, as the women’s score came down to the final relay and the men dropped two races by a combined time of 0:00:05.

The competition against Northwestern, a top-30 swimming and diving program, should benefit WKU as the teams prepare to face a tough Cincinnati team on Saturday.

The Topper swimmers can take a lot from the close loss, coach Bruce Marchionda said.

“We have used the meet against Northwestern as a big learning experience,” he said. “We are motivated to work harder after the loss and show other teams we can compete.”

Marchionda wasn’t the only one energized by the loss — several WKU swimmers realize motivation will be key in the upcoming races.

Senior swimmer Samantha Holmes said positivity will be key for the Topper squads to reach their goals by the end of the season.

“We have to stay positive as a team,” Holmes said. “If we stay positive and practice hard we will become better individual swimmers and a better team in general.”

That’s exactly what the Toppers intend to do this weekend as they travel to Cincinnati to face the Bearcats.

Both Cincinnati teams placed second at the West Virginia Invite on Oct. 26, with freshman swimmer Jackie Keire earning American Athletic Conference Swimmer of the Week honors.

The experienced competition will be nothing new for the Toppers but the swimmers know this will be a good test for them, Marchionda said.

“Cincinnati is a very good team — the former Big East members will be a very good challenge for us,” the coach said. “We will look to use our depth later in the meet, which will hopefully give us the edge.”

The Cincinnati meet will be the the second away meet for the Toppers so far this year.

WKU has gotten off to a strong start to the year, with one opening week win and a close loss to Northwestern. A strong start can build momentum, and that’s what both squads are looking to do with the Hilltopper Invite, another home meet, just two weeks away.

Holmes said if the teams continue to work hard, they should be in good shape as they enter the thick of their schedule.

“The team has worked very hard so far,” Holmes said. “We have a long way to go, but we are on the right track.”