WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The Purdue swimming and diving teams welcome 12 other teams representing six universities to campus this weekend as they conclude the primary segments of their fall competition schedules with the three-day, six-session Purdue Invitational at the Boilermaker Aquatic Center.
Action begins Friday at 10 a.m. and runs through Sunday evening. Admission is free to all sessions. Swimming preliminary sessions are daily at 10 a.m. Diving prelims begin at 1 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The Boilermakers will compete in platform diving for the first time this season Sunday at noon. Platform diving is a finals only event. The relay events will be contested along with the point-scoring individual finals in the evening sessions, which are set for 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday.
Purdue welcomes men's and women's teams from Cincinnati, Louisville, Missouri State, Southern Illinois and Utah to campus weekend for the largest meet of the 2012-13 college season at the Boilermaker Aquatic Center. Michigan will also be represented by smaller groups of selected competitors. The men's and women's teams for Louisville (women 17th, men 23rd), Michigan (men 1st, women 22nd) and Purdue (women 20th, men 25th) are all nationally ranked in the latest CSCAA Top 25 polls.
The rest of Michigan's teams are focusing their training on the Hawkeye Invitational in Iowa City the weekend of Nov. 30-Dec. 2. That same weekend the Purdue divers will compete at the Ohio State Invitational in Columbus. Those meets represent two of the larger December invitationals in the Midwest.
The Boilermakers were unable to host the Purdue Invitational last fall primarily because of a home football game the weekend of Nov. 18-20, 2011. Such will be the case next season as well. The Boilers focused their fall training schedule towards the Ohio State Invitational a year ago, a six-session meet that was held the first weekend of December. The two-week difference between schedules that feature a November or December invitational has an impact on the fall training. The Purdue coaching staffs are hopeful of hosting a December invitational at the Boilermaker Aquatic Center next season.
The Purdue invitational serves as a dress rehearsal for the conference & NCAA championship meets in February and March. With six sessions over three days, competitors need to remain even keeled emotionally throughout the weekend and prepare accordingly for each of their events. Athletes can compete in no more than four individual events, as well as many relays as possible. However, each team is limited to one scoring relay. Teams are permitted to enter as many relays as they choose in exhibition heats.
Among the men, Purdue (2010) and Louisville (2009) represent the last two Purdue Invitational champions. Two years ago, the women's field at the Purdue Invitational featured five nationally-ranked teams. Louisville finished second and the Boilermakers fourth. Emily Fogle broke the school record in the 200 breaststroke for the first time in the Sunday evening session. She has eclipsed that mark four times since.
It was Rhiannon Sheets who enjoyed a breakout performance at the Ohio State Invitational in December of last season. She established seven new records in Columbus, posting new program records in the 100 and 200 butterfly while winning the events. She also broke five Purdue freshman marks. Fogle lowered her 200 breast record en route to sweeping the breaststroke events. Megan Gallagher won the mile to give the Boilers another individual victory. On the relays, Carly Mercer and Sheets both swam on the victorious 200 and 800 freestyle foursomes. Lauren Nichols, Lauren Gustafson and Colleen Drew also contributed to a relay winner.
Lyam Dias established a new meet record at the Ohio State Invitational with his victorious time in the 200 breaststroke a year ago. Jacob McGough touched first in the B final of the 200 butterfly on the same day.
Now senior captains, Chuck Destro and Benjamin Ziolkowski had strong showings at the 2010 Purdue Invitational as sophomores. Destro finished second by only one one-hundredth of a second in the A final of the 50 freestyle that also featured then freshmen Danny Tucker and Matt Friede. Ziolkowski won the B final of the same event. Destro and Friede also swam on the victorious 200 and 400 free relays and Alec LaMothe contributed to a victory in the 800 free relay, helping the Boilermakers sweep the freestyle relays.
So far this season, Francesca Marr (200 breast, 400 IM), Carly Mercer (100 and 200 free) and Fogle (100 breast, 200 IM) have each posted a pair of season-best times for the Purdue women. Mercer (7) and Allie Davis (6) lead the way in individual victories and Gustafson has contributed to a team-high seven relay winners.
For the men, Dias (100 & 200 breast, 200 IM) and Brian Kiel (100 & 200 back, 200 free) lead the way with three season-best times to go along with their five individual victories apiece. Tucker has won each of the eight freestyle sprint events in which he has entered to lead the Boilers in individual victories. Tucker has also contributed to a team-high five relay winners.