The No. 24 Razorback swimming and diving team has one final dual meet against the University of Illinois on Saturday before the SEC Championships begin.
The Razorbacks have won eight meets outright and have only one loss in a dual meet this season. It came against fellow SEC member Auburn on Jan. 15.
The Fighting Illini are 8-3 at dual meets this season but come to Fayetteville having lost their last two dual meets against Nebraska and Iowa respectively. Sunday, against Nebraska, Illinois, head coach Sue Novitsky’s squad won just six of 16 events.
Fighting Illini sophomore Samantha Stratford was one of Illinois’ brights spots in their meet against the Huskers. Stratford won the 200 yard butterfly and the 200 yard individual medley. As a freshman, Stratford completed four of the top 10 fastest finishes in an individual event in program history.
Illinois was unable to capitalize on Stratford’s wins as Nebraska took the victory on the Huskers’ senior day. Illinois’ last win came against Iowa State on Jan. 15. Stratford won two events during that meet as well.
Arkansas is coming off a sweep at a quad meet against Vanderbilt, Houston and Clemson in Fayetteville. The Hogs won seven events including five individual races.
Razorback Madison Strathman has been one of Arkansas’ several bright spots throughout the season and she continued her stellar play with her performance on Saturday. The freshman won the 200 yard breaststroke and was part of the first place 200 yard medley relay team.
“We’re very happy with the way Madison has performed,” Arkansas head coach Sean Schimmel told Razorback Athletics. “She’s in a really good spot right now and has handled coming in as a freshman very well. She’s given us a spark a lot this year, like she did today. We’re looking to have that when we go to SEC Championships in a few weeks as well.”
As the regular season winds down, Arkansas’ focus has begun to shift from maintaining their steadfast performances to upping their game in the postseason.
“Having this whole environment with my teammates and coaches has really helped me develop this season,” Strathman said. “We’re all constantly getting better as we prepare for championship season.”
The Razorbacks look to be hitting their stride in time for postseason play and a good outing against the Fighting Illini would continue to help the team prepare for the SEC Championships a few weeks after their meet on Saturday.
“We have a great team dynamic right now and have really come together,” Schimmel said. “Feeding off of each other is a big part of what we do. When people are swimming well, others jump on board and help get it going. We’re excited about what we’re doing and where we’re headed.”
Arkansas looks to continue their excellence in Fayetteville on Saturday and push their record to 4-0 at home this season. Saturday’s meet against Illinois starts at 11 a.m. After the upcoming meet, the SEC Championships will be next on Arkansas’ slate. The championships take place in Columbia, Missouri, on Feb. 16.