Oct. 20, 1999
The Fighting Illini can see their reflection in the water but they have not yet made the plunge into the nation's top 25 pool.
Starting its season on Friday on the road in Iowa, Illinois registers 26th in the College Swimming Coaches Association preseason poll. UI is one of eight Big Ten schools ranked or receiving votes. In addition to the league representation, the poll tallies three of the Illini's non-conference opponents.
"It is always good to get a ranking," Head Coach Jim Lutz said. "It is nice to have the program recognition, but the truth is it's a gauge for us to see where we need to be."
Of the Orange and Blue conference foes, Michigan earned the best ranking at No. 7. Northwestern holds the No. 10 spot while Wisconsin and Minnesota sit 15th and 16th, respectively. Indiana fell right behind the Illini at No. 27. Penn State (No. 29), Iowa (No. 33) and Purdue (No. 37) round out the Big Ten squads receiving votes.
Two of the Illini's dual meet opponents also appear in the nation's top 25 as Florida cracks the top 10 at No. 9 and Notre Dame ranks 24th. The Fighting Illini meets Florida Jan. 7 and Notre Dame Jan. 22 on the road. Participating in UI's Dual Meet Extravaganza, Kansas collected votes at No. 31.
Illinois kicked off the 1999-2000 campaign with annual Orange and Blue Meet last week. With the Orange shading the Blue 148-122, eight meet records were broken.
In their matchup with the Hawkeyes on Friday at 4 p.m., the Fighting Illini lead the series 8-4. Last year, the Illini downed Iowa 211.5-139.5.
"I am very optimistic about the season because of our performances thus far and the freshmen class has been coming along beautifully," Lutz said. "We match up well against Iowa, so we look forward to competing."