The Tennessee swimming and diving team opened the season with a sweep against UNC Wilmington last weekend.
Now it is preparing for its first real challenge of the season.
This weekend, the Vols will travel to Auburn, Alabama, where they will face a pair of top-25 teams: Auburn and Wisconsin. The College Swimming Coaches Association of America preseason poll has the Auburn men’s team at No. 10 and the women’s team at No. 15; Wisconsin is slotted at No. 25 and No. 12, respectively.
The Tennessee men’s team comes in at 18 and the women’s team is ranked 14.
“I think the excitement is that we will have a chance to really, really be competitive and just race,” senior Micah Bohon said.
Tennessee was able to get a win against UNC Wilmington, but the meet held even more importance for the team’s younger swimmers.
“I think having a chance to race Wilmington let them (younger swimmers) see what a dual meet is like. It has prepared them for an actual SEC dual meet and allowing them to be competitive and comfortable going into a big meet,” Bohon said.
Tennessee comes into the weekend already having swum in the intrasquad Orange and White scrimmage along with the UNC Wilmington meet, but this will be the first competitive meet of the season for Auburn and Wisconsin.
This is the first double-dual meet of the year for the Vols. It will begin on Friday and conclude on Saturday.
“We take a dual meet as a dual meet, regardless if there are two meets,” Bohon said. “You prepare for it the same, you recover the same, you rest the same … it’s more of a mindset, you have to prepare yourself mentally for a two-day meet.”
The Tennessee diving team also learned some valuable lessons in Wilmington that it can carry over to this weekend.
“We put the divers in a pretty adverse state by really pounding them with the conditioning the day before on the beach, so they were pretty fatigued,” Tennessee coach Dave Parrington said. “For them to be able to dive pretty well, we certainly made some mistakes, but to be able to maintain a positive mindset and attitude was some really good stuff I was looking for.”
Tennessee returns two top-10 divers from the NCAA Championships last season in Liam Stone and Colin Zeng. Auburn and Wisconsin had no divers in the top 40 at the event.
“Certainly going in on the men’s side, we would be expected to go in there and do really well. However, we are going to their pool, and we are going on the day of the first event,” Parrington said.
Parrington said the team needs to be focused and ready because they will be competing almost immediately after getting off the bus on Friday.
“I’m not overly familiar with the Wisconsin divers, and Auburn is a Southeastern Conference foe, and it’s real early for them to start this level of competition, but we can’t go in there underestimating them in any way,” Parrington said.
This will be a combined dual meet for Tennessee. They will not be competing against Auburn and Wisconsin on separate days, but at the same time.