Purdue’s swimming and diving squads began 2014 this weekend with back-to-back dual meets against conference rivals Michigan and Michigan State.
The athletes had little turnaround from their three-week training camp in Hawaii as they returned to Indiana on Thursday to battle the Wolverines the next day. Men’s head coach Dan Ross said that fatigue may have been an issue in his squad’s 176-124 loss to the No. 1 ranked defending national champion Wolverines.
“I’ve never really done this,” Ross said. “You get in and then 24 hours later you have to swim the number one team in the country. But no excuses. We had a lot of tired guys, hurting a little bit, but I really like the way some guys were proactive and set themselves up.”
Despite the exhaustion and top-notch competition, junior Guillermo Blanco once again led the Boilers with two individual victories in a grueling 4-event day. Danny Tucker provided the highlight of the meet when he out-touched Michigan’s Bruno Ortiz by .02 seconds in the 50 free.
“I’m not a very good swimmer when we talk about having a lot of events together in one afternoon,” Blanco said. “But I felt very good about it, I was controlling it. I went all out but I felt that I was controlling everyone and I’m amazed about that.”
Women’s head coach John Klinge said the team responded even better than expected after the rigorous camp as his No. 20 Boilermakers dispatched the No. 24 Wolverines 164.5-135.5.
Senior Carly Mercer, the team’s individual win leader, was instrumental both against Michigan and Michigan State the following afternoon, claiming two victories each day.
Led by Mercer, junior Kylie Vogel and freshman Hannah Manger, the women’s squad defeated Michigan State 167-125 on Saturday to improve to 7-0 in dual meets this season. Vogel and Manger, both stroke specialists, provided a 1-2 punch to claim a victory in the opening 200 medley relay and split the two backstroke events.
“I love that event because it’s the first one of the meet and it kind of sets everyone up for how they’re going to do,” Vogel said. “They watch to see how you do, if you do well or if you do bad. So when you do well, it’s really exciting because I think it pumps everybody up.”
The men’s team was also able to rebound after the previous day’s loss with a 187.5-112.5 victory over the Spartans. Senior Luke Trimmer carried momentum from the previous day’s meet to a big win in the 1650 free.
“Swimming Michigan yesterday, I did really well,” Trimmer said. “It got me really excited for today. I knew I was swimming the mile, I had about a week to get mentally prepared for it. The mile, to me, is a real mental game.”