Feb. 25, 2014
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue men's swimming and diving begins the championship portion of its season this week, traveling to the University of Michigan for the Big Ten Championships beginning Wednesday evening and running through Saturday.
Action at Canham Natatorium gets underway Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. with the 200 medley and 800 freestyle relays as well as an exhibition round of synchronized 3-meter diving. Preliminary rounds are set for the afternoon sessions and begin at 11 a.m. Relays are contested, Big Ten champions determined and team points earned in the evening finals, which begin nightly at 6:30 p.m.
The Big Ten Network will televise highlights of the Saturday evening session Sunday, March 2 from 10:30 a.m. to noon ET. Saturday night's session will also be live on BTN2Go. Purdue's David Boudia will be serving as the diving analyst. The BTN's Digital Network will also be offering live video webcasts of the first five sessions from Wednesday evening through Saturday morning that will be available via Boilermaker All-Access.
The Big Ten is always one of the top swimming and diving conferences in the country and the championship meet is hotly contested. This season the 10-team field will feature six schools (No. 2 Michigan, No. 6 Indiana, No. 7 Ohio State, No. 11 Minnesota, No. 22 Purdue and No. 25 Penn State) ranked among the latest CSCAA Top 25 poll. The Boilermakers competed head-to-head against every Big Ten rival except Penn State this year.
Michigan is the three-time defending Big Ten champion as well as the 2013 national champion. Since matching the program's best finish by taking fourth in both 2009 and 2010, Purdue has finished fifth, seventh and fifth the last three years.
Michigan's Canham Natatorium is hosting the Big Ten Championships for the first time since 2008. Purdue was originally scheduled to host the 2015 men's conference championship meet, but was bumped back to 2016 after Iowa was selected as the host of the 2015 Men's NCAA Championships. The Big Ten holds the conference championship meet at the same site in the years which that facility will host NCAAs. Iowa's new aquatic center hosted the men's and women's Big Tens as recently as 2012.
The Boilermaker Aquatic Center will also host the Women's Big Ten Championships in 2017. The Big Ten is one of the few conferences that continue to hold its men's and women's championship meets separate from each other. The women's meet was last week in Minneapolis.
Purdue has competed at Michigan's Canham Natatorium twice (2011 and 2013) during the careers of the current senior class.
Andrew Langenfeld, who won the 50 free in 2009, is Purdue's most recent Big Ten champion in the swimming events. Boudia won eight Big Ten diving titles while representing the Boilers from 2009-11.
After finishing as the runner-up in the championship finals of the 50 and 100 freestyle as a junior and winning the 100-meter free at the U.S. Open last summer, Danny Tucker should have the best chance of the current Boilers to emerge as a Big Ten champion this year. Michigan's Bruno Ortiz is back to defend his Big Ten titles in the freestyle sprints after out touching Tucker in both events at Big Tens a year ago. Minnesota's Derek Toomey is also among the favorites. He had the best 50 free time (19.25) of the meet in the prelims last season.
Tucker broke the Purdue record in the 100 free, came up only one hundredth of a second short of the program benchmark in the 50 free and shared top individual scorer honors among the Boilers with diver Jamie Bissett (34 points each). Nate Cox (17) and Bissett both scored in all three diving events. Alec Back (1-meter) and Bissett (platform) each took third in a championship final.
Lyam Dias (22 points), Sean Mokhtari (14), Layne Rogers (14), Jan Karel Petric (7), Matt Friede (6), Luke Trimmer (2) and Nate Hopkins (1) are the other active Boilers that scored at Big Tens last season. Stephen Seliskar, Bissett, Dias, Friede, Rogers and Tucker went on to represent Purdue at the 2013 NCAA Championships.
Look for Guillermo Blanco to have a strong showing for the Boilermakers as well after not competing at Big Tens last year. He accounted for 35 points as a freshman at the 2012 Big Ten Championships, qualifying for the A final of both individual medley events. The Spaniard eclipsed the program record in the 400 IM last month. Earlier this season when Purdue rested and tapered for the Minnesota Grand Prix in November, Filip Bujoczek enjoyed a big weekend and broke the team's freshman record in the 500 free.
While selected Purdue swimmers and relay teams will essentially clinch berths at the NCAA Championships this week, the divers will have to earn their spots at the national championship meet next month by qualifying at the NCAA Zone Championships. The Boilermakers will compete in the Zone C meet the weekend of March 13-14 in Columbus, Ohio.