Women's Swimming
Orange and Blue Welcomes Illinois State for Home Opener

Head coach Sue Novitsky is 12-1 in her career against Illinois State.
Head coach Sue Novitsky is 12-1 in her career against Illinois State.

Oct. 31, 2013

The Fighting Illini swimming and diving team will face in-state rival Illinois State in their first home meet of the season at the ARC Pool Friday night at 6 p.m. CT. Illinois (3-2) holds a dominating 23-7 all-time record against the Redbirds, including an impressive 12-1 mark under Novitsky. The only loss to the Redbirds under Novitsky came last season in Bloomington-Normal as the Illini fell 157-143, despite claiming eight out of 16 events while breaking three Horton Pool records. Illinois State enters the weekend 2-0, defeating Truman State and Nebraska-Omaha.

"Competing for the first time this year at home will be nice for the athletes," head coach Sue Novitsky said. "They are very familiar with the boards and pool, so we should see cleaner swims."

Senior Courtney Pope and junior Alison Meng have shined in the pool early on this season. Pope leads the team with four individual first-place finishes after three meets, but Meng is a close second claiming three first-place finishes of her own.

Pope has already matched her first-place finish total from last season. Meng will need four more to match her sophomore season total. The two have also teamed up to claim four relay titles so far this year.

Talented freshmen Gabbie Stecker and Amelia Schilling have made a big splash in their first few collegiate matches. The two have each claimed five individual top-three finishes early on this season. Stecker saw her first individual collegiate victory come at Michigan State in the 500-yard free, while Schilling has come up just short of her first collegiate victory a few times with three second-place finishes.

The meet against Illinois State is Hawaii themed, and fans are encouraged to come to the meet dressed as if you were in Hawaii. In addition to the Hawaii theme, the Illini will host a "Guess the 50 Free" contest, and the winner will receive a free Illinois beach towel. All Illini fans can pick up their swimming and diving schedule poster for free at tomorrow's meet.

The Illinois marketing department also announced promotions for the rest of the season's home meets, highlighted by Splash Bash, presented by WCIA, for the Jan. 20 meet against Southern Illinois and Olivet Nazarene. Splash Bash features carnival games, snacks, prizes and givaways starting at 1 p.m. before the 2 p.m. meet.

The "Guess the 50 Free" contest will take place at every Illinois home meet. On Saturday, Nov. 9, against Kansas, Illini fans will be treated to free pancakes before the 10 a.m. meet against the Jayhawks. Senior Day will be held during the Jan. 10 meet against Rutgers.

For a complete list of Illini swimming and diving promotions this season, click HERE.

The Illini are off to a 3-2 start this season and will look to rebound at home after going 2-1 on the road in Michigan last weekend. The Illini handled business, defeating conference foe Michigan State (178-122) and Liberty (157-142) Friday night before losing a nail-biter to Oakland (153.5-144.5) fewer than 18 hours after the previous night's sweep of Michigan State and Liberty.

"We let the Oakland meet slip through our fingers by a fraction of a second and as coaches we are looking for the team to respond with a focused and strong meet from start to finish," Novitsky said.

Illinois hosts another meet next Saturday, Nov. 9. Kansas comes to the ARC Pool to swim the Illini at 10 a.m. CT.