Badgers’ moment of truth

first_imgFor the UW men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams, this weekend’s Texas Invitational should be the culmination of all the training the two have endured throughout the semester. This will be the event in which the hours upon hours of practice over the last few months will finally pay big dividends, in the form of one or two hundredths of a second. The prestigious event, which will be held at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin, Texas, will showcase many of the best swimmers from across the country, and is annually a key stepping-stone for athletes working to qualify for the NCAA Championships in March.”It’s probably our biggest meet,” junior swimmer Hannah McClurg said. “Doing well here gets us set up for the end of the season, Big Ten [Championships] and Nationals, so it’s important that we go in with a lot of motivation and confidence and know what we can do.”Historically, UW has done well at the Texas Invite, with the women’s team placing third at last year’s event (525 points) and the men finishing eighth (117), but this year the competition will be particularly strong. The Badger women go into this weekend’s meet ranked 18th nationally and will face some stiff opposition in the forms of No. 1 Stanford and No. 2 Arizona, but UW assistant coach Eric Fehr is confident the team’s veterans will pick up right where they left off last year.”Our women are a little more experienced [than last year],” Fehr said. “We’re a little more mature team, and we’re hoping to get a lot of people qualified for the NCAA Championships this meet and really compete at a high level.”We want to get a lot of our qualifications for NCAAs to the extent that we can do it here, so we can train through the Big Ten Championships and really focus on NCAAs.” “Relays have always been historically our strongest, and that’s something that we really put a lot of emphasis on, especially with the women’s side,” Fehr added. “That’s going to be the ticket for a lot of the women to get qualified.”As for the men, Fehr hopes to see improvement in all areas. “The men, still a little younger, just want to continue to see some development,” he said. “We’re probably going to be pointing a little more towards the conference to qualify us for NCAA’s. It’s a great test. It’s a chance to swim in a really fast environment with some great competition and see an NCAA-like environment.”Junior swimmer Mike Swanson is also confident that for the Badger men’s team, this weekend won’t be one to forget.”It’s pretty much up for grabs in any event,” Swanson said. “That’s sort of the nature of these midseason, big-time meets. “The meet is set up so that a lot of people get into finals,” he added. “This really sets you up for the championship meet, so everyone is pretty much on their A game.” The men will be going up against a number of top-ranked teams this weekend as well, highlighted by No. 2 Texas and No. 3 Stanford. The men’s best chance of toppling these heavyweights will most likely ride on the success of the men’s relay teams. “Our 800 free relay is pretty important to the guys’ team,” Swanson said. “It’s probably our best shot for making [the NCAA Championships] and doing well [there] so, for the four guys that are going to be on that relay, it’s definitely their biggest event this weekend.”So how has the team managed to deal with the everyday stress of school coupled with the additional pressure of the biggest meet of the fall semester? “Overall, I think we’ve handled it really well,” Swanson said. “We go into this meet forgetting about all that. We try to get everything done, everything set before this meet so that we can just swim. It really is the dress rehearsal to the championship meets.”last_img

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