The Tennessee swim and dive team heads to West Lafayette, Indiana to compete against Purdue University and the University of Wisconsin—two Big 10 teams the Vols don’t usually compete against.
“I know that each team has people that we will be seeing at the NCAA championships and who are very, very good so it’s unfamiliar, high level competition,” head coach Matt Kredich said.
Only one team member has been to the Boilermaker Aquatic Center, so this meet will be a test in adaptation for the majority of the team.
“It’s going to be a great challenge walking into a pool that I don’t think all but maybe one of our divers have been to before,” diving coach Dave Parrington said. “Rachel Rubadue’s probably been there before. But for everybody else it will be a completely new environment, they have a great facility so that’ll be good.”
Personal relationships will also be tested in Indiana as Purdue’s Emily Brestscher is from Knoxville, and her sister now runs cross-country at UT.
“One of their girls is actually from Knoxville who we happened to recruit pretty hard,” Parrington said. “We’re looking forward to seeing her and going against her.”
Perhaps one of the most watched match-ups at the NCAA diving meet was between Tennessee’s Colin Zeng and Purdue’s silver medalist, Steele Johnson.
At the championship meet last year, Johnson pulled out a more difficult dive on the last round to outlast Zeng.
As of Wednesday though, Johnson had not yet entered the meet due to rumored injury, which means the rematch may not happen at this point in the season.
“Even without their top diver, Steele Johnson, they’ve got some other guys on their men’s team that are exceptional.” Parrington said. “One of their other sophomores or juniors is a national team member and competed for the United States on the world stage at the World Cup.”
This week Zeng was awarded SEC Diver of the Week Honors for the seventh time in his career with the Vols, the first six from last season alone.
Erika Brown was named SEC Swimmer of the Week after winning all four of her individual events over the course of last week’s meets against Louisville and Alabama. Brown won the 100-yard butterfly (52.98) and 50 freestyle (22.83) against Louisville, and the 100 freestyle (49.94) and 100 backstroke (54.27) against Alabama.
In the season-opening weekend of competition, Brown won seven of her eight events, racking up three relay wins in addition to her individual events.
More than anything, Kredich looks forward to seeing how his team can go into a new pool, especially just one week after the first meet of the season.
“Last week was our first week of competition, so we want to see what people learned from the meets we’ve had and see what kind of progress we’ve made in training this week,” Kredich said.
As Tennessee hosts their 95th homecoming football game, senior Kyle DeCoursey is having a homecoming of his own as he returns to his home state this weekend. Much of his family lives in Indiana, and his sister, Gretta DeCoursey, swims on Purdue’s women’s swim team.
DeCoursey has received multiple accolades, including the All-SEC team in 2016, 2017 and 2018. In 2016 he was named an All-American and in 2018 a CSCAA All-American.
At the SEC championships in 2018, DeCoursey won the bronze medal in the 200-freestyle relay and won silver in the 50-freestyle and the 200-medley relay.
“This will be his first meet back after having a little injury, so I’m excited to see him back in action and it will be a fun meet for him to participate in,” Kredich said.