Feb. 19, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS - Northwestern began fast during the first day of the Big Ten Championships, swimming its fastest times of the season in the pair of relays, the 200 yard medley and 800 free.
In the 200 yard medley, freshman Lacey Locke (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) began the race with a 25.33 time for 50 yards in the backstroke.
"The medley relay got us off to a good start," Northwestern head coach Jimmy Tierney said. "I think they did a nice job. We beat a couple of times and dropped a significant amount of time, which is pretty good. So there's some promising stuff and hopefully we'll be ready to go tomorrow. Five of the eight swims were lifetime bests."
Sophomore Julianne Kurke (Atlanta, Ga./Parkview) followed it up with a 28.10 time and junior Valerie Nubbe (Huntsville, Ala./Huntsville) swam a 24.69 in her leg of the race.
"It was exciting and I was glad to have all my teammates behind me. The environment was awesome. It was really loud and great looking over and seeing all our fans there," Locke said. "It was good testing the waters. The relay went well and we have a lot in store as a team. We're all ready and that was a good pump up to get ready for the rest of the week."
NU's young squad, featuring three underclassmen in Locke, Kurke, Nubbe and and freshman Annika Winsnes (Singapore/United World College) posted a time of 1:41.31, the `Cats fastest time of the season.
The race bested NU's previous top time of 1:43.83 by Locke, Kurke, Ellen Stello and Melissa Postoll during the U.S. Winter National Championships on Dec. 7, 2013. NU also beat its top time of the regular season, 1:44.46 during the TYR Invite by Locke, Katie Branch, Ellen Stello and Winsnes at the Norris Aquatics Center.
Following an exhibition of synchronized diving, Northwestern's 800 yard free relay team of sophomore Ellen Anderson (Montgomery Village, Md./Gaithersburg), freshman Lauren Abruzzo (Denver, Colo./Kent Denver), senior Jackie Powell (Madison, Wis./James Madison Memorial) and freshman Lacey Smith (Boulder, Colo./Fairview) posted the `Cats fastest time in the relay all year, going 7:18.82.
The time beat out NU's previous best of 7:22.66 by Powell, Erin Sosidan, Smith, Abruzzo set during the TYR Invite in Evanston.
After the first day, Northwestern scored 32 points and currently stand in ninth place.
Day two of the Big Ten Championships begins at 11 a.m. CT tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 20, with preliminary action. Finals are at 6:30 p.m. CT.
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