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Tigers alumni make a splash

Sunday, September 21, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:17 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Competition crossed generations at the University Natatorium on Saturday.

The Missouri swimming and diving team held its Alumni Meet where Tom North defeated his son Matt North, a 2004 Olympic trials qualifier.

Tigers’ coach Brian Hoffer said the meet is intended to be a social event and not competitive.

Fifteen to 20 alumni competed this year, but there was no formal roster for the alumni team because the coaches generally don’t know who is attending until the morning of the meet, Hoffer said.

“It’s just fun to see everybody. For them it’s not as much about the competition,” Hoffer said. “It’s more about having the chance to catch up with each other. We use this kind of as our homecoming because (during) our homecoming weekend we are going to be on the road.’’

Several alumni and Tiger swimmers competed in each race. The North competed in a 50-meter race with alumni members swimming freestyle and the Tigers swimming breaststroke.

“It was fun,” Matt North said. “We’ve never done this before so I had no idea what I could do against my dad. He hadn’t really swam for about four years. Before that he was in a masters (swim) program and I knew what he could do then.”

Tom North, who swam for MU from 1966-68, has been swimming for more than 40 years.

Matt North began to surpass his father’s swimming level when he was about 12.

Tom North said his son could easily beat him when swimming the same strokes

Matt North, who has been swimming since he was 6, said he remembers a time when his dad was the competition to beat.

“We used to race when I was around 10 and he would always win,” Matt North said.

Tom North said the training is more intense now with the Tigers swimming two practices a day as opposed to one.

As a Tiger, Tom North’s fastest stroke was the 200-individual medley, with his best time being 2:05. Matt North’s best time in that event is 1:51.87, the fourth fastest in Tigers’ history.

For Matt North, the Alumni Meet was a chance to meet past MU swimmers.

“I wanted to meet some alumni that are on the record boards,” hesaid. “It was nice to be able to put faces with the names.”

Matt North set a meet record Friday night at the annual Black and Gold scrimmage.

Despite a 212 tie at the University Natatorium, he swam the 100 breaststroke in only 57.14. Matt also won the 200-individual medley and 400-freestyle relay.

The Gold team dominated the diving competition with Nicole Frazier and Evan Watters finishing first on the one-meter board; Watters added another first on the three-meter board. For the Black team, Anna Massey placed first on the women’s three-meter board.

Alumni record holders swam in Saturday’s meet. In 1998, former Tiger Mike Miller set the school record for the 100 butterfly at 48.53. Miller won a race on Saturday, swimming the 50 butterfly in 23.62.

Ted Fischer, a two-time Big Eight champion, also competed in the Alumni Meet. In 1995, he swam the second fastest MU time in the 100 butterfly at 48.54.

Former Tiger Cathy Gardiner was a spectator. She watched her husband Kevin compete. Their 6-month-old son, Kaleb watched from the stands in a “Go Mizzou” jumpsuit. Cathy graduated in 1998 and Kevin in 1997. They met while on the swim team at MU and live in the Kansas City area.

The alumni divers also got their chance. Divers chose their dives and then used an unofficial scoring system. The judges were in swimsuits and cheered for performances.

Erin Wilke, who graduated in 2002, also competed.

Wilke spent last summer performing in diving shows for Six Flags theme parks, and performed in Miami, Chicago and Springfield, Ill.

Wilke, who has 15 years of diving experience, recently began coaching for Clayton Diving Alliance in St. Louis. She said she is looking for a career to use her marketing degree, but will never forget her experience as an athlete.

“There are a lot of skills you learn as an athlete that help you in the workforce and with life in general,” Wilke said. “These carry on into the rest of your life.”


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