IU women’s swimming and diving returns home Friday to familiar waters marred by fierce opposition. The two-day matchup against the University of Texas and the University of Louisville will be a three-way battle of ranked schools seeking early-season supremacy.
Texas arrives undefeated, including versus a University of Kentucky squad that outpaced IU by 22 points in its first outing Oct. 9. In order to topple the top-10 Longhorns, the Hoosiers will have to rely on former Longhorn commit and IU freshman Cora Dupre.
In her first collegiate meet, Dupre won the 100- and 200-yard freestyle races and was a part of IU’s first-place 400-yard freestyle relay team. Her finish of 49.43 in the 100 was good enough for an NCAA B-cut, moving her closer to an appearance at the NCAA Championships, but Texas has its own speedster to hassle Dupre.
Sophomore Julia Cook also earned a B-cut in the 100-yard freestyle with her 49.45 performance against Texas A&M University on Friday.
Another pillar for the Longhorns is junior Evie Pfeiffer, who thus far has netted times of 9:52.92 in the 1000-yard freestyle, 4:45.14 in the 500, and 2:16.60 in the 200-yard breaststroke. Pfeiffer will give IU senior Cassy Jernberg all she can handle in the endurance events, but IU has an edge in the breaststroke courtesy of sophomore Noelle Peplowski and freshman Emily Weiss.
Meanwhile, Peplowski and Weiss will race against Louisville junior Morgan Friesen, who has times of 1:02.16 and 2:13.32 in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke, respectively.
The Cardinals’ greatest advantage lies in senior Grace Oglesby, who has dominated the butterfly, jetting to a B-cut time of 1:57.82 in the 200 in Louisville’s defeat of Notre Dame.
As for diving, the Hoosiers may find themselves out of their depth given the onslaught of talent and experience coming to Bloomington. Texas’ Alison Gibson claims a pair of wins in the one-meter dive versus Kentucky and Texas A&M. Louisville’s senior Molly Fears has yet to leave the diving board without a victory through two meets.
While IU’s young divers are sure to make strides as the season progresses, with sophomores Kayla Luarde and Alyssa Wang showing promise in the year’s inaugural contest, this week’s competition appears to be in a league of its own.
As Texas continues its push to the top of the rankings, IU is one of the few groups with the sheer speed to pose a challenge. It will take standout performances in the freestyle and breaststroke to weather Texas’ attack and to expose weaknesses in a Louisville team which matches up very nicely elsewhere.
Regardless of the outcome, this meet should be an accurate depiction of the sort of competition many Hoosiers hope to face in March at the NCAA Championships.