Six consecutive wins to open a 16-event meet gave the IU men’s swimming and diving team a 186-114 victory against Purdue on senior day.
Seniors James Wells and Cody Miller combined with freshmen Max Irwin and Anze Tavcar to take the opening 200-yard medley relay event. Freshman Jackson Miller and sophomore Grayson Smith followed with a 1-2 finish in the 1,000-yard freestyle.
“I thought Jackson Miller stepped up in the freestyle,” IU Coach Ray Looze said. “He hasn’t done it since he was 13- or 14-years-old. That was a really great race for him.”
In the 200-yard freestyle, senior Eric Ress finished first with an NCAA B-cut time of 1:37.68. Irwin placed second.
Wells took the 100-yard backstroke in 47.67, another B-cut, and Miller won the 100-yard breaststroke for their second wins of the day.
“We brought a lot of energy from the very start of the meet,” sophomore John Winck said. “Pretty much all of the swimmers from the top to the bottom really got up and swam their hearts out. That really affected our team chemistry.”
To complete the opening streak, junior Steve Schmuhl out-touched Purdue’s Guillermo Blanco in the 200-yard butterfly to win in 1:46.77.
Looze said his team came in ready to swim in front of millions of viewers, as the meet was broadcasted on the Big Ten Network.
“I think some people really stepped up, especially Eric Ress, he really put on a show,” Looze said. “With the lights on, obviously Eric knows what to do with that.”
No one rose to the occasion more than junior Joe Powell, Looze said, as he got his first ever dual meet win. Powell barely out-reached teammate Irwin in the 100-yard butterfly to win in 49.70. Irwin finished in 49.72 seconds.
Of eight seniors honored Saturday, three of them took the top spots in the 3-meter springboard diving competition.
Darian Schmidt was first with 450.30 points, Bryce Ogden second and Emad Abdelatif third.
“It was great to see how they handled it when the event slowed down, when the TV turned on,” IU Diving Coach Drew Johansen said. “This is great that the network is here to help us kind of get that feeling that they’re going to get when they’re at Big Tens and NCAAs.”
Schmidt swept the springboards, winning the 1-meter with 397.95 points, and Abdelatif was third. Senior Conor Murphy won the platform competition.
Johansen said it has been a “blessing” to have a core group of experienced, senior leaders.
“We know how to handle the season, so it gave us more time to get to know each other,” he said. “I wasn’t having to tell them so much about how their taper was going to go or what it’s like to be in a Big Ten final or an NCAA Championships because they’ve been there already.”
The seniors combined for 16 top-three finishes of the day. The men’s team has now beaten its last six opponents and improved to 6-4 in its final dual meet of the season.
They now look toward postseason competition.
“I don’t think we’re ready yet, but we don’t want to be ready yet,” Looze said. “We’re on track. When you reflect back on the results and the splits and some of the technical aspects — we’ll address that individually and as a group.”
Follow reporter Grace Palmieri on Twitter @grace_palmieri.