Jan. 23, 2014
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- For what should be its toughest head-to-head meet of the season thus far, No. 18 Purdue women's swimming and diving puts its undefeated dual meet record on the line Saturday for the annual rivalry dual with No. 11 Indiana.
Action begins at 11 a.m. Saturday morning at the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center in Bloomington. The standard 16-event dual meet format will be used, with the 1650 freestyle taking the place of the 1000 as the first individual event of the day.
The Boilermakers are 7-0 in dual meets this season, posting wins against Miami (Ohio), Notre Dame, Ohio State, Northwestern, Hawaii, Michigan and Michigan State. The Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan meets were all not decided until the final few events. Purdue won those three meets by an average total of 18 points.
Indiana is 6-3 in dual meet action this season, recording wins against Notre Dame, Michigan, Kentucky, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri. The teams to defeat the Hoosiers - Auburn, Tennessee and Texas - are also ranked among the Top 15 of the latest CSCAA rankings. In its first dual meet action since Nov. 1, Indiana defeated Illinois, Iowa and Missouri at last weekend's quad meet in Iowa City.
While the Big Ten Championships remain the focal point of all the Big Ten teams' training regimens and practice schedules, giving the athletes a chance to compete against quality opponents over the next few weeks helps keep all parties excited for the championship portion of the season. Purdue faces another challenge next weekend when No. 13 Minnesota and Wisconsin (receiving votes) visit the Boilermaker Aquatic Center for the annual Big Ten Triple Duals.
A number of divers for Indiana and Purdue competed against each other at the USA Diving Winter Nationals in Austin, Texas, last month. While Casey Matthews claimed a pair of silvers with second-place showings for Purdue, the future of both diving programs also teamed up and excelled together. Indiana's Jessica Parratto, who is redshirting as a freshman this year, teamed with Purdue NLI signee Anna James to win gold in the synchronized 10-meter platform. James and Parratto also finished two-three in the individual 10-meter event.
Freshmen swimmers Gia Dalesandro (Indiana) and Meagan Lim (Purdue) are competing this season and have teamed up to collect five Big Ten Freshman of the Week awards. They could race against each other in the 100 butterfly Saturday. Lim was honored in back-to-back weeks earlier this month after her individual victories in the duals against Hawaii, Michigan and Michigan State. With eight event wins this season, she is tied with Allie Davis and Matthews for second on the team. Carly Mercer, a three-time Big Ten Swimmer of the Week honoree, leads the Boilers with 14 individual victories and has also contributed to a team-high nine relay wins.
Rhiannon Sheets swept the butterfly events at the last Indiana-Purdue dual in Bloomington (2012). Last year, she anchored Purdue's 400 free relay team to a victory. Mercer swam the leadoff leg on the same quartet.
The performances of the Purdue divers highlighted last year's dual in West Lafayette. Led by Michelle Cabassol's victory from the 1-meter springboard, Purdue had the top five finishers in the event. MacKenzie Tweardy's second-place finish highlighted a platform competition in which Boilers placed two-three-four. Unlike years past when Indiana and Purdue have competed from the platforms at the rivalry dual, only springboard events are on the schedule this year.