The No. 7/10 Indiana men’s and women’s swim and dive teams defeated the University of Cincinnati in its final meet of the fall season on Friday at the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center in Bloomington. The men won 163-121 and the women won 161-110. They begin the spring season at home versus Michigan on Jan. 14, 2023.
Before the meet, a celebration of life was held for all-time great Hoosier diving coach Hobie Billingsley, who passed away in July at the age of 95. Billingsley helped coach Indiana to all six of the program's national titles during his 31-year tenure, which ended in 1989. Numerous alumni were in attendance, and head swimming coach Ray Looze said the team noticed their presence.
"It was great to honor Hobie Billingsley,” Looze said. “I think that was kind of the main reason this meet was (in Bloomington). Back in the day, (James “Doc” Counsilman) and Hobie used to swim (against) Cincy around this time, and lots of great memories were created, so they were generous enough to travel here. We had probably 180 alums in the stands that came from all over the world for his memorial this weekend. To me, that’s the most important thing that’s happening at Indiana University in terms of swimming and diving this weekend.”
The alumni, combined with a raucous crowd of students and parents alike, packed the CBAC as Indiana took home its fourth dual meet win of the season in convincing fashion.
Looze said the number of fans in attendance came as a surprise given the proximity to finals week.
“There was a huge crowd here, there was some nice energy, and I think a lot of people wanted to put on a good show for them,” Looze said. “I really like the electricity that was created.”
One swimmer who had a particularly good day was junior Maxwell Reich. In the 200 yard breaststroke, he posted a time of 1:52.35, which was announced as the fifth-best time in the nation this season.
At the Ohio State Invitational from Nov. 14-17, Looze said there were air quality issues which substantially impacted swimmers throughout. On Friday, he said Riech was one of the athletes in particular who was affected.
"He’s got more passion than most people have blood in their bodies,” Looze said. “Max is such a great kid. He’s kind of a quiet leader, works super hard, does all the right things, is a great student — and for him to get that (time) was very rewarding. I get to coach Max a lot, and that’s been a long time coming. I think there’s more in the tank for him too. Everybody was very happy for him. The whole team stood up, really got pumped up, and I think they helped feed him in that race.”
Indiana was able to find success with the usual suspects – the likes of Reich, sophomores Rafa Miroslaw, Finn Brooks, and defending Women’s Big Ten Swimmer of the Week Anna Peplowski, juniors Warren Briggs and Jassen Yep, senior Ashley Turak, as well as graduate student Noelle Peplowski. However, unlike past meets, Coach Looze’s squad was also able to mix up the lineup.
Looze said the shuffle in the lineup was by design.
“I think you need to do it once or twice a season, and that’s what this was for,” Looze said. “This was for the purpose of swimming some off-events, exploring some new opportunities.”
Freshmen Chiok Yeo and Katharina Wrede finished second and third behind Turak in the 50 free, and Katie Forrester took first place in the 200 fly, proving that the young talent runs deep for the women.
“That’s really important to advancing the depth of our team or just taking a break from something you do all the time,” Looze said. “Mentally it’s really helpful.”
Additionally, before Friday’s meet, the men received their rings and were honored as the 2022 Men’s Big Ten Swimming Champions. Senior Brendan Burns, the 2022 NCAA Swimming Champion in the 200 fly, received his ring, and junior Tarrin Gilliland received her second consecutive ring as the 2022 NCAA Platform Diving Champion. Gilliland was honored as the 2022 Collegiate Swim Coaches Association of America Women’s Diver of the Year.
Friday’s meet marked the halfway point of the season.
“Both these teams are pushing to see what they can do this season at the Big Ten Championships and, even more importantly, at the NCAA (Championships),” Looze said.
The Indiana faithful who packed the bleachers at the CBAC on Friday afternoon helped punctuate a banner week in Bloomington.
“It’s been a good week for Indiana. Men’s, women’s basketball down (the University of North Carolina), and I think Indiana University Athletics are pointed in a really positive direction. Super exciting,” Looze said.