The Purdue swimming and diving team celebrated its seniors on Friday night by coming out victorious against Michigan State.
Taking place at Morgan J. Burke Aquatic Center, this was the last home dual meet of the season for both the men’s and women’s teams and the last home meet ever for the 18 seniors graduating this year.
“It seems pretty surreal. I remember my very first meet against Ohio here,” said senior swimmer Emmy Rawson. “I just finished my last meet here and have two more meets and a championship to go, and it’s pretty incredible.”
Per tradition, the meet started with a senior ceremony for the 10 seniors from the men’s team and eight seniors on the women’s team. The ceremony also honored two seniors on the support staff for the swim and dive team. Each senior was recognized and given the opportunity to hit Purdue’s Big Bass Drum prior to starting their last home meet.
The ceremony jolted Purdue off to a great start and the meet ended with the men’s team achieving 177 points for the win against Michigan State’s 105 points. The Boilers came in first in 13 out of the 16 events.
The women’s team had just as impressive results in the meet with 188 points compared to Michigan State’s score of 105. The women won 14 out of the 16 events they were in. Both the men’s and women’s teams placed in the top two for every event they swam in. This allowed the Boilers to rise to a 4-2 record in dual meets for this season.
“It’s been a lot of training and I think as a team we did really well,” senior Adam Noens said. “I know me, personally, I did the 100-freestyle today. And just for relay’s sake, we did really well, but just as a team we performed really well.”
Noens had a successful meet with a victory in the men’s 100-meter freestyle and helped the men’s relay team win both of its events. In August, Noens represented Purdue at the U.S. Opens Championships and was selected to be Purdue’s representative at the Big Ten Championship.
Senior Marat Amaltdinov won his 13th event of the season in the 200-meter breaststroke after being beat by his fellow teammate, junior Joe Gardner, in the 100-meter breaststroke by 0.18 seconds. Amaltdinov will leave Purdue with the title of Big Ten Champion and All-American for the 200-meter breaststroke last year and is hoping for continued success during the rest of the meets this year.
On the women’s team, senior Kaersten Meitz won two events and was a part of a relay win during the meet. Meitz is no stranger to success in the pool and holds the program record for the women’s 500-meter freestyle and 1650-meter freestyle.
Meitz had the opportunity to represent the United States in the World University games this past summer and finished as a silver medalist during the games. She was the first female Purdue swimmer to qualify for the games.
The underclassmen stepped up throughout the season and at the meet on Friday when they proved that they can take over for the seniors and continue the success of the team.
On the men’s team, freshman Nikola Bjelajac had a Purdue season-best in the 50-meter freestyle for his first home meet. He was also a Big Ten Freshman of the Week honoree last week for his success in Hawaii. Junior swimmers Taite Kitchel and Morgan Meixner each won two individual events on Friday at the meet on the women’s team.
“It’s always fun to be with my teammates,” said Rawson. “Taite Kitchel and I would always go one-two on all our events. It’s really cool to know that we have a junior who can easily take over.”
The wins were bittersweet for the seniors, who recalled their past years on the team while competing for the last time. The seniors have made numerous memories while being on the team for so long and will take them with them after they leave the team and Purdue in May.
“It was a great privilege for me,” Noens said. “Rewind all the way back to freshman year of high school. I never thought I would be a part of a team like this, a Division I school so I always try not to take it for granted and fast-forward to present day it’s pretty cool to look back on things and see how it played out.”
The teammates also all made lifetime memories together over Winter Break when they had the opportunity to go to Hawaii for winter training. This was the first time the Boilers went to Hawaii for winter training since 2013.
The team was able to dedicate their time to training for the team while classes were out of session. The men competed and won in a meet against Hawaii during their visit.
The Boilers spent their time in the tropical island practicing twice a day in rigorous training exercises. They still had the time and energy though to explore the island of Oahu after their practices were done. The team stayed two blocks away from Waikiki Beach, which they were able to visit multiple times. They also had the opportunity to go skydiving, hiking and visit iconic historical landmarks, such as Pearl Harbor.
“We did a lot of team hikes which were awesome and also went to the Dole factory which was really nice, we got some nice whipped ice cream,” said Rawson.
The seniors are not done with the season yet, though. The teams still have the another meet this week, Big Ten Triple Duals and the championships to look forward to for the rest of the season. The seniors are looking to finish their season strong, and the underclassmen are getting ready to take over for the seniors next season.
The men’s and women’s teams will travel to Bloomington to compete in a dual meet against Indiana at 11 a.m. on Saturday.