11th Place Big Ten Championships
The Fighting Illini swimming and diving team put together its strongest start since the 1997-98 season with a 7-0 mark to open the dual season and finished the year 14-14 overall. Individually, the squad prompted 17 changes to the all-time fastest individuals list and six changes to the top dives list.
The Orange and Blue got off to a solid start, defeating six of its first seven dual opponents by more than 40 points each to earn victories over Michigan State, Iowa, Nebraska, Akron, Southern Illinois and Illinois State. Illinois' closest dual contest of the season came at Toledo, where the Illini clinched the victory in the final event of the evening with a thrilling 153-147 finish.
Illinois' success was not limited to dual meets, however, as the Illini finished second of nine in the Hawkeye Invitational after a highly contested battle for second place with host Iowa. Illinois trailed the Hawkeyes after the first two days of the three-day meet but fought back to capture second in the final events of the contest.
The early-season success came to a close at the Big Ten Quad Meet, where the Illini fell to then-No. 13 Minnesota, No. 16 Wisconsin and No. 20 Purdue.
Two weeks later at the Big Ten Championships, the Illini placed 11th, though junior Brittany McGowan came away with two school records for her stellar performance in the 100 fly. The Beverly Hills, Mich., native posted a 54.58, which was good for the fastest 100 fly in school history, while her split time (25.61) set a new Illini record in the 50 fly. McGowan added another outstanding performance in the 200 fly (2:02.04) and became the third-fastest Illini to ever swim that event.
Sophomore Erin Lamb led Illinois with eight first-place finishes on the season and posted the team's best time in the 50 free (23.60) to rank 10th on the all-time fastest individuals list. Junior April McKee ranked second with seven individual victories, while freshman Cara Chuang added six first-place finishes of her own.
Freshman Courtney Pope also put together a solid season and led the Illini in the 100 (51.39) and 200 (1:50.68) free, in which she currently ranks ninth on the all-time fastest individuals list. For her efforts, the Homer Glen, Ill., native earned recognition as a Fighting Illini Female Newcomer of the Year finalist and took home the team's Newcomer of the Year title.
Senior Ann Miller moved up on the all-time fastest individuals list in the 200 fly (5th; 2:02.75), 400 IM (5th; 4:22.71) and 200 IM (6th; 2:04.81), while redshirt freshman Erica Lynn led the way in the 100 (5th; 1:04.03) and 200 breast (4th; 2:16.50) to rank in the top-10 on the list as well.
Junior Torrey Loper showed her versatility by leading Illinois in the 500 (4:58.41), 1000 (10:22.82) and 1650 (16:57.85) free and now ranks ninth in the 1650 free and 10th in the 200 back (2:03.42) on the all-time fastest individuals list.
On the boards, junior Britni Fisher and sophomore Tessa Adams each qualified for the NCAA Zone C Diving Championships, marking Fisher's third and Adams' second zone diving appearances. Fisher led the Illini divers with four first-place finishes on the season.
In the classroom, the Illini swimmers and divers continued the program's tradition of excellence, as the squad earned the Fighting Illini Outstanding Team GPA Award with the highest grade point average (3.44) of any varsity team at Illinois. Individually, senior Miller, junior McKee and sophomore Keri Eberhardt each earned the highest GPAs among all Illini female athletes in their respective classes.
Additionally, Illinois earned the Fall 2010 Scholar All-America Team Award with the 29th-highest GPA (3.39) among women's Division I swimming and diving teams. The swimmers and divers also led all Illini sports with 21 selectees on the 2010-11 Winter Academic All-Big Ten list.