CHAMPAIGN, Illinois, October 9. THE Fighting Illini swimming and diving team opened the 2010-11 season with a dominating victory over visiting Nebraska, 189.5-110.5 Saturday afternoon at the ARC pool. The Illini claimed 13 of 16 events on the day, led by junior April McKee, sophomore Erin Lamb and freshman Cara Chuang, who each captured two events apiece.
"We raced tough and competed," head coach Sue Novitsky said. "We wanted to focus on the details, because when you do that, things are going to turn out well."
In the first race of the day, the 200 medley relay team of Chuang, senior Corey Kasten and juniors Brittany McGowan and Kristen Manias claimed first place with a time of 1:44.88, good for a new pool record.
"I thought we had a chance to break the record," Novitsky said. "Cara Chuang got us off to a great start with her lead-off split and the ball was rolling from there. We put together some solid legs. It really set the tone for the entire meet."
Illinois added to its relay success with a first-place finish in the 400 free relay (3:30.49), which included Lamb, senior Meghan Mason, McGowan and freshman Courtney Pope.
In the 1000 free, junior Torrey Loper swam to a first-place finish (10:22.82), while Pope claimed third (10:27.52) in her individual race debut. In the 200 free, Lamb was victorious with a time of 1:53.67, while Mason finished in third place (1:55.28) and sophomore Kathleen Knight set a new personal-best time of 1:56.99.
Newcomer Chuang had an impressive collegiate debut for the Illini, finishing first in the 100 back with a time of 57.33 to become the 10th-fastest individual in school history in the event, while Jessica Holz swam to a third-place finish (59.71) and Kasten claimed the top spot in the 100 breast (1:06.24).
In the 200 fly, sophomore Erin Rodriguez captured first place (2:07.68), while freshman Emily Wilkinson finished third (2:09.10), and fellow freshman Elizabeth Bell placed third in the 50 free (24.56) in her Illini debut.
The Illini claimed the top three spots in the 100 free, with Lamb in first place (52.56), followed by Mason (52.98) and junior Caitlin Conroy (53.36) in second and third, respectively.
In the 200 back, Chuang won with a time of 2:05.30, while Holz finished in second (2:07.73), and in the 200 breast, junior April McKee placed first (2:23.96), followed by redshirt freshman Erica Lynn in third (2:26.44).
Additional event winners on the day included Pope in the 500 free (5:05.61) and McKee in the 200 IM (2:08.78), while McGowan took second in the 100 fly (58.15) and Knight claimed third in the 500 free (5:09.68).
On the boards, junior Britni Fisher secured a first-place finish in the one-meter dive with a score of 263.70 and also was the top finisher for the Illini in the three-meter dive (237.30), while sophomore Tessa Adams finished in third in the one-meter dive with a score of 247.20.
The Illini will head to Ohio next weekend to take on Toledo on Friday, Oct. 15, before battling Akron the following day.
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