Women's Swimming
Illini Complete Day Two at Big Ten Championships

Sophomore Courtney Pope became the ninth-fastest Illini to swim the 50 free on Thursday
Sophomore Courtney Pope became the ninth-fastest Illini to swim the 50 free on Thursday

Feb. 16, 2012


IOWA CITY, Iowa - The Fighting Illini swimming and diving team slipped to 10th place (50 points) at the Big Ten Championships Thursday and trail ninth-place Michigan by 28 points. Sophomore Courtney Pope, senior Brittany McGowan and an Illini relay team highlighted the day for the Orange and Blue, climbing Illinois' all-time fastest individuals list.

"Today was a mixture of good and bad," head coach Sue Novitsky said. "We had some good swims, but we were just missing that one extra spark. Dealing with the tension and the pressure of the atmosphere at the meet is hard. We just want the girls to relax, swim and have the races they are capable of having. We did have some really good swims this morning, but we are still waiting to see that extra bit that we know is in there."

After seven events, Minnesota leads the standings with 235 points, followed by Ohio State (222), Indiana (203), Wisconsin (174), Penn State (118.5), Purdue (113.5), Iowa (95), Northwestern (88), Michigan (78), Illinois (50), Nebraska (41), and Michigan State (40).

The 200 free relay team of seniors Kristen Manias and McGowan, Pope and freshman Alison Meng finished ninth and posted a season-best time of 1:32.25, the fifth-fastest in Illini history, adding the only points on the day for Illinois. Manias helped secure the time with her quick relay split, finishing her leg of the relay in a personal best time of 23.39, tying her as the fifth-fastest individual to swim the event in school history. The relay team's time was an NCAA provisional B time.

In the 50 free prelims, Pope led the Illini with a personal-best time of 23.52, making her the ninth-fastest individual to swim the event in school history. McGowan also swam a personal-best 23.55, ranking 10th on Illinois' all-time fastest individuals list. Meanwhile, senior Rachel Japp Joyce (24.05) and freshmen trio Megan Marchuk (24.24), Mary Beth Howard (24.54) and Alexa Chavez (24.91) each captured personal bests, while Manias (23.54) and junior Erin Lamb (23.92) both secured season-best times in that event.

In prelims, junior Erin Rodriguez led the 200 IM (2:05.55) with the fastest time by an Illini this season, followed by senior April McKee, who secured her own season best with a 2:05.89. Junior Sarah Coady (2:06.45) and sophomores Erica Lynn (2:07.36), Marin Thompson (2:2:09.10) and Emma Williams (2:09.63) also added personal bests in the 200 IM.

In the 500 free prelims, sophomore Alyssa Toland (5:04.87) and freshman Hailey Booth (5:03.29) each posted personal bests, while senior Kelly Kunkel secured her fastest time of the season (5:01.21).

On the boards, Britni Fisher was the top finisher for the Illini with a score of 240.75 in the one-meter dive.

The Illini did not qualify for finals in any individual event on the day.

"The team needs to come in with more energy," Novitsky said. "They need to make sure to get themselves ready and stay calm and focused. They need to let themselves do what they have been trained to do all year. We want to put together that combination we've been looking for all year and have that breakthrough with some really good swims."

The Orange and Blue will return to action tomorrow at 11 a.m. CT.

Schedule of Events
Trials will begin at 11 a.m. CT, Finals at 6:30 p.m. CT

Friday, Feb. 17 // Trials & Finals
400 Medley Relay
400 IM
100 Fly
200 Free
100 Breast
100 Back
Three-meter Diving

Saturday, Feb. 18 // Trials & Finals
1650 Free
200 Back
100 Free
200 Breast
200 Fly
Platform Diving
400 Free Relay