The Ohio State women’s swimming and diving team has been dominant in its fall season, with only one blemish to an otherwise perfect record.
As the No. 20-ranked Buckeyes prepare for this year’s Ohio State Invitational meet, the final before the New Year, they are set to host No. 5 Florida, No. 11 Virginia, unranked Purdue and unranked Kentucky over the weekend.
This meet marks the largest competition on the Buckeyes fall schedule. It is also scheduled to be the second time this season the Buckeyes take on Big Ten rival, Purdue, losing their first encounter Nov. 8 157-143.
“I’m unbelievably disappointed in that loss. That’s a team that was well within our grasp in terms of winning the meet and we didn’t get it done,” coach Bill Dorenkott said. “I can tell you a lot of reasons why but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter and we didn’t get it done.”
Despite the loss, Dorenkott said vengeance is not his team’s goal.
“There’s certainly no revenge factor or anything like that,” he said. “They’re good competitors and we welcome that competition.”
With three of its opponents in the OSU Invitational nationally ranked, including the No. 5 Florida Gators, the highest ranked team the Buckeyes have faced this season, the team is well aware of the challenge in front of them.
“The format of this meet is more like that of the Big Ten Finals or the NCAA championships,” OSU spokesman Mike Basford said. “This is probably their biggest competition so far.”
Senior distance swimmer Kelly Ann Baird said the competition will be extra motivation for the Buckeyes.
“It’s always a little scary going into the meets where you know how great your competitors are,” she said. “But it’s also a lot of fun … whenever you get in the pool with another team, you always want to go your best, you’re always going to want to beat them but you know it’s going to be a lot harder than usual.”
Baird said she feels the team has gotten better as the season has progressed.
“Honestly, we’ve had great teams in the past that have more talent,” Baird said. “This year, we came in with a pretty solid team and then we just really got to know each other better … in the past, we didn’t perform as well because we weren’t as close and we’ve already become closer than we were in the past.”
While the OSU Invitational might be on the forefront of the swimmers’ minds, Dorenkott said he does have an end goal in mind for the season.
“I think we can be top three in the Big Ten, top 15 in the country, double digits to NCAA. We’d love to see every person we take to NCAA come back as an honorable mention, All-American or better,” Dorenkott said. “If those things happen, I’ll be a pretty happy guy.”
The meet is scheduled for all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday at McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion.