Second to One: With 318 wins, Powell moves to No. 2

Wes Watt

He’s done it before and he’ll no doubt do it again, but for swimming coach Bill Powell, Saturday was a little different.

Maybe it was the pool temperature or their own beds, but the Western’s men’s swimming and diving teams liked staying at home last weekend.

Powell did too.

The Toppers held their first home meet on Saturday, and the home-pool advantage played a big factor.

Together, the units have a 17-meet win streak going after dispatching Wisconsin-Green Bay last weekend. They only have three home meets left to help keep the streak alive.

But what was most important was Powell moving into a tie for second place all-time men’s dual meet wins with 318.

The Phoenix traveled 12 hours on Friday to take on Western’s men’s swimming and diving team, trying to hand the Toppers their first home loss since the January 2002 season.

Their efforts were futile, as Western jumped all over the Phoenix and handed them a 158-128 loss.

“I think the home-pool advantage is as big as in any sport,” Western coach Bill Powell said. “If you say water is water then you have to say grass is grass in football, and a hardwood floor is a hardwood floor in basketball.

Home-pool advantage is tremendous and we swim well in this pool.”

The freestyle portion of the meet set the pace for the Tops as they took first place in all five freestyle events.

But the 200-yard free was where Western sparkled. It took first, second, third and fourth place to get big lead from the get-go.

“You build a team around your freestylers,” Powell said. “If you’re weak in the backstroke you’re shot in two events. If you’re weak in the freestyle you’re shot in five events.”

Freshmen Nic Hurt and Evan Mulliken both grabbed two first-place finishes in the freestyle events. Sophomore James Campbell took first place in the 1,000-yard free.

“It definitely helps out a lot,” Mulliken said. “We’ve all been working really hard and I’m real proud of all the freshmen.”

One of the few events in which the Toppers showed weakness was diving – partly because of injuries. It turned out Western didn’t need their points.

At least not yet.

The lack of diving scoring may prove costly in future meets, and Powell is hoping his injury-stricken unit heals fast.

“These injuries to our divers are really hurting us,” Powell said. “We have got to get them better.”

Reach Wes Watt at [email protected]