Sep 6, 2013
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - After strong showings in each of its respective conference championships last season, the Western Kentucky University swimming and diving team is looking to use that momentum against a strong slate of opponent in the 2013-14 season, as WKU head coach Bruce Marchionda announced the schedule Friday afternoon.
Three home competitions covering six days highlights the schedule, as WKU also welcomes five new opponents to its competition schedule that didn't go up against the Hilltoppers or Lady Toppers last season.
The women's team, who brought home its ninth Sun Belt Conference Championship last year, will also join the men's side in competing as an affiliate of Conference USA, as the SBC will not sponsor swimming and diving this year. The team will also face a pair of conference foes in the regular season in Florida Atlantic and Marshall.
WKU opens the schedule on October 12 against Delta State in Cleveland, Miss. Following a weekend off, WKU has its first home meet scheduled for October 25 against Northwestern, a team that sent three swimmers to the NCAA Championships last season.
"We are very excited to have a great Big Ten team in Northwestern coming to our campus," said Marchionda. "It will also be our alumni weekend. Brandi Carey is being inducted into the Hall of Fame that Saturday morning, so we should have a lot of support there, so that is very exciting. Last year the men's meet with Northwestern came down to the last relay and we fell short, so this will give us an opportunity to see where we are and swim against a great team."
November 9 has the team traveling to Ohio to face Cincinnati before coming back to Bill Powell Natatorium to host the team's annual Hilltopper Invite with Akron, Illinois State, University of the Cumberlands and Missouri-Rolla coming to Bowling Green for the event November 21-23.
" After the Hilltopper Invite, we end the semester with the USA Short Course National Championships, and they are in Knoxville, Tenn., which will be an easy trip for us," said Marchionda. "We will take a group of about 25 swimmers to represent WKU, so that should be a great way to end the first semester."
WKU opens the second semester of competition during its annual winter training trip to Florida where the team will once again face Florida Atlantic and Nova Southeastern on January 11. The team will then celebrate its 12 seniors for Senior Day against Marshall, Vanderbilt and University of the Cumberlands on January 24-25.
"We finish up the second semester with those three teams in a two-day competition where we will do all the events that are in the conference lineup, so it is a little different format so that will be different for us, and we get a lot of racing in those two days," said Marchionda.
Postseason action begins with the Conference USA Championships running from February 26-March 1 in Atlanta, Ga. Last season, the men's team finished second after a tough battle with nationally-recognized Southern Methodist University.
"We are just ecstatic about getting both teams in the Conference USA Championships early on our women's side and our men returning, so we are obviously trying to bring the first C-USA title back to Bowling Green, which will be very exciting," said Marchionda.
The Women's and Men's NCAA Championships take place in late March in Minneapolis, Minn., and Austin, Texas, respectively. New this year, and similar to basketball, is the National Invitational Tournament, where swimmers who fall just short of qualifying for the NCAA Championships have a chance to extend his or her season.
"You have to have a NCAA `B' cut to be considered to swim in the NIT meet," said Marchionda. "Last year if they would have had this meet, we would have had 15 swimmers qualify for that meet, so again we are looking for a good number of WKU swimmer to represent us in that national championship. They are in Rockwall, Texas, which we have been to many times for Sun Belt Conference Championships, so it is familiar ground to us."