WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue men's swimming and diving hits the road for its most travel-intensive weekend of the year, setting up a weekend itinerary that head coach Dan Ross called perhaps "the strangest in [program] history."
The 21st-ranked Boilermakers will send eight swimmers and one diver to Dallas to compete in the Classic at SMU Friday and Saturday evening at 8:30 p.m. (EST). The remaining members of the travel squad will head to East Lansing, Mich., with the Purdue women for a Saturday dual meet against Michigan State set for 2 p.m. at McCaffree Pool.
The two groups reconvene Sunday in Ann Arbor, Mich., completing a busy weekend with a 5 p.m. dual meet against No. 13 Michigan at Canham Natatorium.
Coincidentally, Michigan is also among the six teams scheduled to compete in a field loaded with nationally-ranked teams at SMU Friday and Saturday. No. 5 Florida, No. 7 USC, No. 9 North Carolina, and the host Mustangs, first among teams receiving votes in the CSCAA Top 25 poll, round out the field at Perkins Natatorium, which features of the few remaining six-lane pools at the NCAA Division I level. Each team is limited to eight swimmers and one diver for the two nights of competition.
"We're looking to perform well and hopefully we'll have season best times up to this point," Kiel said. "We'll be wearing the fast jammer suits this weekend. Hopefully, the team performs, relays included. It should be fun. I'm not used to all the travel, but I'll adjust. I'm looking forward to competing against Michigan. I know some of the swimmers on their team from Minnesota.
"We've come off winter training with strong momentum and we're hoping to continue that through the meets this weekend."
With second semester on campus underway and the calendar now reading 2011, Purdue is gearing up for the most competitive portion of its schedule. This weekend's busy schedule is a stark contrast to the recent stretch from the week of Thanksgiving through New Year's Day. While training remained a constant during that time, the swimmers did not compete for nearly six weeks.
"We finished the training camp really well," Ross said. "Now I think they're just excited about swimming in the meets. I think we're a little tired. And I noticed it mentally, being back in school and getting back in the routine. They've been a little rough around the edges."
"We've got a workout ahead of us. This weekend is probably the strangest in Purdue history. We've got eight swimmers and a diver going to Dallas for the SMU Classic. It's a really fun, unique format for two days. The rest of our allowed travel squad will go to Michigan State and swim Saturday. Then we all come together in Ann Arbor on Sunday for a meet at five o'clock. We're excited. It's going to be a tough [weekend], but we don't have any competitions next week."
Miller, Stewart and Wachtel were Purdue's top performers at the first competition of the new calendar year, last week's Florida Atlantic Invitational. Miller posted new seasonal top times for the Boilermakers in the 100 and 200 breast, Stewart won the 1,000 free and Wachtel captured the 200 free. Together, they helped lead Purdue to victories against the other four universities competing in the dual meet scoring format event.