SWIMMING AND DIVING: Ball State may be biggest challenge yet

Josh Buckman

The men and women of Western’s swimming and diving team face what looks to be their toughest test yet this Saturday when they match up with Ball State.

The Toppers’ and Cardinals’ men come in undefeated in dual meets (6-0). The Lady Cardinals are 7-1 on the season.

“Both men and women are going to have a tough meet. We’re going to have to be at our best for both of them,” said head coach Bill Powell. “Ball State has good depth and good balance.”

Ball State has a tough breaststroker in Zach Smith, who holds the school record in the 200-yard breast and had the squad’s best time last year in the 100-yard breast. The men also are strong in the butterfly, sprints and diving.

“I’ve never heard of them before, and whenever they say they’re undefeated (in dual meets), that makes it worse, because you don’t know what to expect,” said Western freshman Chris Tarter.

One critical point for Western’s men is the health of backstroker Gord Veldman. Veldman sat out last Saturday’s meet against Cumberland College with a sore shoulder. He had an MRI yesterday. His practice this week will be limited.

On the women’s side, Ball State has a strong sophomore in Karla Bailey. Last season, Bailey led the Cardinals with 25 first-place finishes.

The Lady Toppers will need strong performances in the sprinting and distance events. But Powell believes Western will have to compete as a team to beat Ball State.

“Everybody is going to really have to perform,” Powell said. “It’s going to be a team thing, and everybody is going to have a say-so.”

But not everyone is worried about the Cardinals. Western, after all, seems to have recent history on its side. When Western faced the Cardinals last season, they expected a difficult match but managed to pull it out rather easily.

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