The No.9 Ohio State men’s swimming and diving team hosts the Big Ten Championships starting Wednesday. The event is four-day marathon with a multitude of races each day, culminating with an award ceremony Saturday evening. Here’s what to watch for…
Home sweet home
For the fifth time, McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion will host a Big Ten or NCAA championship meet. Coach Bill Wadley said his squad is thrilled to be able to swim in their home pool.
“They’re excited. They’re not just ready, they’re looking forward to it,” Wadley said. “It’s really sort of a dream come true, to be able to host the Big Ten Championships in your own facility and to have this many upperclassmen all on the team. We’re looking forward to having a great week and hopefully lots of fun, fast swimming.”
Senior Sam Pelkey said that for the seniors to be at home for their last Big Ten meet means the world.
“Everybody’s really, really excited about Big Ten’s. It’s exciting to have it here at our pool, especially for the seniors,” said Pelkey, the reigning Big Ten Champion in the 200 breaststroke. “It means a lot to us to have our last Big Ten’s here.”
It’s now or never
Swimmers pace themselves all year in anticipation for swimming their best times at the end of the season. It’s not uncommon for a swimmer to shave major time off their previous season-best times. Senior Sam Pelkey believes the Buckeyes are in good shape for a successful weekend with plenty of fast times.
The team’s looking great, everybody’s looking really good, everybody’s healthy so that’s a really good thing,” Pelkey said. “We’re looking to have multiple Big Ten champions.”
Winning the mental battle
Great golfers believe they can sink the clutch putt. Great basketball players know they can make free throws in the closing seconds of a tight game. Great swimmers aren’t any different.
“I definitely have confidence that I think I could win. I always go into every race thinking and believing that I can do it,” senior Joel Elber said. “I feel like if I don’t have that belief, if I feel like someone’s better than me, I’m already getting beat.”
Wadley echoes the sentiments of his two-time honorable mention All-American and team captain.
“If you don’t think you can win, then you probably are not going to win,” Wadley said. “You have to at least get up on the blocks and believe you have a chance. Our hope that is our guys get on the blocks and believe they have a chance.”
Wadley’s squad is a confident and optimistic bunch. However, they are also realists. They know they have a tough hill to climb just to be close to Michigan at the end of the meet.
The Wolverines beat second-place Ohio State by 308 points in last year’s Big Ten Championships.
“I think that we do have shot. To say that we have a good shot might be overstepping ourselves a little bit,” Pelkey said. “It will take a really phenomenal meet by us and maybe an average meet by them [for OSU to win]. But, I wouldn’t put us out of the hunt by any means, if things go right for us then we definitely have a shot.”
Wadley just wants his squad to take care of what they can control and lets the chips fall where they may.
“I think Michigan and Minnesota are probably the top two teams, hopefully we’re not far behind. Michigan beat everybody last year by 300 points and Minnesota disqualified a relay last year. Otherwise they would’ve been second,” Wadley said. “The plan is to be good, be fast and hope that that lands us near the top.”