swimming and diving

A Husker swimmer swims during the meet against Iowa State University on Oct. 22, 2017, at the Bob Devaney Center Natatorium in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Nebraska swimming and diving team is coming off a high placement at the Mizzou Invitational on Nov. 16-18. The next stop for the Husker women is in Columbus, Ohio, for the USA Swimming Winter Nationals from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2.

There are 406 athletes from 20 universities and numerous club teams are among those competing for titles at the winter nationals this weekend. The meet is different than most, though, as no collegiate team awards are given, instead only the top-three placements are awarded to college athletes.

Michigan and Ohio State are the only other Big Ten Conference schools competing at the meet. As one of the top conferences for swimming, the Big Ten holds six schools in the top-25 rankings.

Currently, Nebraska is ranked eighth out of the 13 Big Ten teams for swimming and diving. In 2016, the Huskers finished at No. 11 and placed ninth at the Big Ten Championships. Similar to last year, Nebraska will face tough competition at this year’s winter nationals.

No. 23 ranked the Ohio State University has several good swimmers who are riding recent success from their match-up against NC State into winter nationals. Junior Meg Bailey and freshman Freya Rayner had great finishes that helped the Buckeyes finish second of nine teams. Bailey placed first in the 200-yard butterfly, in which she had a tremendous last-second win. In the 400-yard medley. Rayner produced a career best by dropping almost an entire second off her 100-yard freestyle, adding some depth to the OSU roster.

Michigan State also has a swimmer to beat in Racheal Bukowski. When the Spartan’s last competed in the Northwestern TYR Invitational, Bukowski finished first in the 100-yard freestyle, her fifth consecutive win in the event. Bukowski led the team to many victories so far this season and was also named Big Ten Swimmer of the Week on Nov. 15.

Despite the upcoming tough competition, Nebraska heads into this meet with some momentum behind it. At the Mizzou Invitational, 11 Husker swimmers set personal bests.

Team capitan Jordan Ehly had a career best finish in the preliminaries for the 200-yard breastroke and finished in second place in the finals. In a previous interview with The Daily Nebraska, Ehly said one of her goals for this season was to be recognized as an All-American, and she has been working toward that goal since the start of the season.

Junior Morgan McCafferty is one of the top backstroke competitors at Nebraska. At the Mizzou Invitational, she posted a career best in the 100 backstroke at a time of 55 seconds flat. McCafferty qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials back in 2016, making her another important asset for the Huskers in the winter nationals.

While many colleges will attend, the USA Swimming Winter Nationals are not strictly a collegiate meet. Athletes ranging from ages 14-30 will compete for top titles. Clubs and schools across the country will bring their best swimmers in hopes of winning. Nebraska will take six athletes to Columbus, Ohio; Ehly, Autumn Haebig, Jacqueline Jeschke, McCafferty, Anna McDonald and Izzie Murray. The competition starts on Wednesday, Nov. 29, in the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion at Ohio State University.