FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – With its first dual meet rapidly approaching, the Northern Arizona swimming & diving team will conduct its final tune-up on Friday with its annual Blue vs. Gold meet at 2 p.m. at the Wall Aquatic Center. The Lumberjack swimmers will return to the pool after making their season debut in the team's Pentathlon two weeks ago while the Lumberjack divers will compete for the first time this fall.
"The meet will be another opportunity to see people race and it's an opportunity for us coaches to gather information as we prepare for the string of dual meets coming up," said head coach Andy Johns. "We need to find out who is going to fill out some events for us and it's friendly competition. They're working hard and they've improved since the Pentathlon."
The team will be spilt into two squads as decided by the team's seniors. The swimmers will compete in 10 events as part of the 12-event schedule, while the divers will compete on the 1-meter and 3-meter boards. The two split squads will compete against each other in a dual meet format.
Last year's Blue vs. Gold meet was a thrilling event as the Gold team edged out the Blue team, 52.5-51.5. The Gold team entered the final event, the 200 freestyle relay, holding a one-point advantage but the two squads touched at the same time to split the final points and give the Gold team the win. Senior Rachel Palmer won two events at last year's meet – the 200 IM and 150 butterfly – for the Blue team. Senior Emma Lowther (200 freestyle), sophomore Ellie Morrissey (100 freestyle), junior Caitlin Wright (400 freestyle) and senior Jordan Burnes (150 breaststroke) are also returning event winners from a year ago.
NAU's divers will make their debut on Friday following the swimming-only Pentathlon and have shown tremendous strides heading into the Blue vs. Gold meet. Senior Gwen Smithberg, the defending WAC Champion and school-record holder on platform, will not dive due to an injury, but sophomore Chelsea Jackson, an All-WAC honoree on 1-meter and platform last year, leads a talented group of divers into competition this week.
"Compared to a year ago at Blue and Gold, we're looking a lot better and stronger," said diving coach Nikki Huffman. "We're dealing with some obstacles with Gwen but everybody is diving well and that's really positive to see."
The Blue vs. Gold meet is free for all fans to attend.
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