WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The Purdue swimming and diving teams begin their spring semester competition schedules with a trip to the state of Michigan this weekend, with both teams taking on Michigan State and the men also squaring off against a U-M Wolverines team ranked No. 1 in the nation.
The Purdue men traveled north Thursday evening and are scheduled to compete against Michigan State Friday at 6 p.m. in East Lansing. They'll head to Ann Arbor after the dual meet and square off against Michigan Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Canham Natatorium. The Wolverines were the top-ranked team in the country in the latest (Dec. 4) CSCAA Top 25 poll.
The Purdue women travel Friday after practice and take on Michigan State Saturday at 2 p.m. in East Lansing. MSU's McCaffree Pool is among the most the oldest in the Big Ten and features a six-lane competition pool. The Michigan State women's team takes on Toledo in conjunction with the Purdue-MSU men's meet Friday.
Michigan natives Lauren Nichols (Birmingham) and Jim Riegger (Ann Arbor) return to their home states this weekend. Sebastien Aube will also be on the travel squad for the men. His sister Genevieve swims for the U-M women's team.
The Purdue men have not had their full roster at their disposal each of the last two years versus Michigan State due to the dual meet overlapping with the Classic @ SMU in Dallas. This time two years ago, the Boilermakers put together an ambitious weekend schedule that featured three competitions in three different cities. Selected members of the team traveled to Dallas while the rest of the travel party went to the state of Michigan. The men competed alongside the women for a double dual meet at Michigan State Saturday afternoon and then traveled to Ann Arbor, where they were joined by the guys that had been in Dallas, for another dual with Michigan. Last season at the Boilermaker Aquatic Center, the Purdue men were able to defeat MSU even without the eight swimmers and one diver who were competing at SMU.
Dating back to the 1980-81 season, the Purdue and Michigan State women have competed in a head-to-head dual meet every season but two (1996-97 and 2002-03). The Boilermakers have not lost to MSU since 1987-88.
Nichols won the 50 freestyle at Michigan State two years ago in her return to her home state. She is one of four active members of the Purdue programs expected to travel this weekend that were winners at MSU in January 2011. Lauren Gustafson touched first in the 100 backstroke and also teamed up with Nichols to help the Boilers win the 400 free relay. As freshmen, Colleen Drew captured the 200 back and Danny Tucker swept the 50 and 100 freestyle sprints.
The first week of spring-semester classes on campus coincided with the final days of Purdue's winter training programs, which included a trip to Fort Lauderdale the week before Christmas. The divers were in Puerto Rico for their training at the same time. Not only did the Boilers train in an outdoor pool at the Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, but also competed in an outdoor meet against Florida Atlantic on Dec. 21.
Allie Davis led the way for the Purdue women in the FAU dual by winning the 200 and 500 free and now ranks second to Carly Mercer (nine wins) with eight individual victories this season. Nichols (50 free), Gustafson (100 free), Mercer (200 IM) each won an individual event and contributed to a relay victory.
At the same meet for the men, Danny Conway (200 IM, 500 free) was a two-time individual winner to garner Big Ten Swimmer of the Week honors. Tucker took the 100 free and anchored the 200 free and 200 medley relay winners, to which Chuck Destro was also a contributor as well. Tucker's nine individual victories lead the way for the Boilers.
As both Purdue teams to continue to gear their training towards the Big Ten Championship meets, fellow Big Ten rivals Indiana, Illinois (women), Minnesota and Wisconsin are also on the schedule over the next six weeks.