The Purdue swimming and diving teams close out their dual meet schedules this weekend with the annual two-day Big Ten Triple Duals, hosted by Northwestern this season.
Action is set for 6 p.m. ET on Friday and at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday at Northwestern’s Norris Aquatics Center, located along the Lake Michigan shoreline in the Chicago suburb of Evanston. Minnesota rounds out the field for the triple dual. The Boilermakers are making their first trip to Northwestern since winning both sides of a traditional co-ed dual in November of 2012.
The Purdue women moved up to No. 18 in the latest College Swimming Coaches Association of America top-25 poll released this week. The Minnesota men are ranked 20th and the Minnesota women 24th.
Northwestern replaced Wisconsin in the Big Ten Triple Duals field last year and now gets a chance to host the meet for the first time. Purdue is up next in the three-year rotation and the Boilermaker Aquatic Center is expected to host the final weekend of January next year.
By the time Northwestern hosts the Big Ten Triple Duals again in January of 2019, the renovations to the Norris Aquatics Center, included in the new athletics and recreational complex being constructed along the lakefront on the north end of Northwestern’s campus, should be complete. A new diving well, featuring a traditional 10-meter platform diving tower, highlights those renovations. Currently, a 5-meter platform is the highest diving structure at the facility, meaning that only the traditional springboard events will be contested this weekend. Platform diving had been featured at the Big Ten Triple Duals in recent seasons.
Purdue’s Chicagoland-area natives Joe Cifelli (grew up in Chicago Heights), Danny Conway (Grayslake), Emily Fogle (North Barrington) and Max Showalter (Oak Park) return to their native state this weekend. All four competed at the Norris Aquatics Center before coming to Purdue. Conway was a freshman and Fogle a junior the last time the Boilermakers visited Evanston. Fogle won the 100 breaststroke and finished second in the 200 individual medley, while Conway was the runner-up in the 200 butterfly. Allie Davis (500) and Nika Karlina Petric (1,000) also teamed up for a sweep of the distance freestyle events at Northwestern as freshmen.
The two-day format of the Big Ten Triple Duals allows the inclusion of more relays as well as the 400 IM. Both the 200 and 400 freestyle and medley relays will be contested this weekend. A swimmer can compete in no more than six events, including relays. The meet has traditionally featured two heats per gender for every swimming event, except the relays and 1,000 freestyle. Each team can enter four scoring swimmers per event – two for each heat. Teams are assigned lanes four and six, three and seven, or two and five, and compete in those lanes throughout the two days of competition. The outer lanes have been open to non-scoring swimmers from any of the teams.
The Big Ten Triple Duals not only serves as an abbreviated version of the Big Ten Championships, featuring some quality competition over two days of events, but also fits the teams’ schedules and budgets well. The Boilermakers have the opportunity to host the meet every third year, and when they do travel for the meet, it’s a flight (Minneapolis) one year and a bus trip (Evanston) the next. Northwestern replacing Wisconsin kept that format in place.
An improbable first-place tie between Kaersten Meitz and Davis in the 1,000 free headlined Purdue’s combined 11 event victories at the 2015 Big Ten Triple Duals hosted by Minnesota. Among active Boilermakers, Marat Amaltdinov was also victorious in the 200 breaststroke. However, he is not expected to travel this weekend.
Upon returning from Chicagoland, both Purdue teams will shift their focus solely to the Big Ten Championships. However, selected swimmers from both teams will compete prior to the Big Tens. The women will head to Columbus for the two-day Ohio State Winter Invite (Feb. 13-14) and the men will host a First Chance meet (Feb. 20-21) for the first time. Michigan is hosting the Women’s Big Ten Championships (Feb. 17-20) this year and the Men’s Big Ten Championships (Feb. 24-27) returns to the Boilermaker Aquatic Center for the first time since 2009.