Southern Illinois’ Celia Pulido Swims 51.8 100 Back, Books Return Ticket to NCAAs at Purdue


  • November 16-18, 2023
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
  • Short Course Yards (25 yards), Prelims/Finals
  • Teams Participating: Purdue, Illinois (Women), Northwestern, Illinois State (Women), Southern Illinois, Missouri State, Marshall (Women), McKendree (NCAA D2)
  • Meet Central
  • Live Results
  • Day 1 Recap

Northwestern freshman Diego Nosack completed a sweep of the IM races, Ayla Spitz almost broke a school record, and a pair of D2 stars from McKendree out-swam the Big Ten to grab a win on an eventful day 2 at the 2023 Purdue Invitational.

The session also saw a mid-major star, Southern Illinois’ Celia Pulido, earn a return ticket to the NCAA Championships after missing out last season as a sophomore.

Men’s Recap

Team Scores After Day 2:

  1. Northwestern – 722.5
  2. Purdue – 624.5
  3. McKendree – 369
  4. Missouri State – 268
  5. Southern Illinois – 162

Jack Lustig, the defending NCAA Division II Champion (and record holder) in the 200 fly, won his first race of the meet on Friday in the 100 fly, touching in 46.65. That’s about half-a-second shy of the time he swam to place 3rd at NCAAs last season.

That was one of two wins for McKendree on the day. Alireza Yavari, won the 200 free in 1:36.06 – beating out a Northwestern 2-3-4-5 finish that included a 1:36.50 from Jan Karolczak for 2nd place.

The McKendree juniors, in the process, outswam fields of Big Ten athletes from Northwestern and Purdue, two schools that occupied the rest of the top 7 places collectively, in a huge head-to-head statement for his program and his head coach Jimmy Tierney – who used to be the head coach at Northwestern.

The Wildcats got their shots in on Friday too. That includes a 3:44.52 from freshman Diego Nosack in the 400 IM. That’s his second win after taking the 200 IM on Thursday, but unlike the 200 IM, this was a new personal best. His previous best was 3:44.77 from Sectionals in March.

That breaks the Northwestern school record of 3:45.57 that was set in 2005 by Olympian Mike Alexandrov.

Northwestern National Teamer Kevin Houseman grabbed another win for the Wildcats, taking the 100 breaststroke in 52.43. Last year, it took 51.90 to qualify for NCAAs.

The Purdue men surged late to capture the last two individual events of the meet. Brady Samuels won the 100 back in 45.81, shattering the former Meet Record set in 2021 by Mitchell Whyte of Louisville. That’s the third time in 24 hours that he broke the meet record in the 100 back (including a 400 medley relay leadoff split).

He finished 16th at last year’s NCAA Championship meet with a finals time of 45.50 (after a personal best of 45.17 to get into that final).

Jordan Rzepka then led Purdue in a 1-2-3 finish on men’s 3-meter.

Northwestern and Purdue split the relays on the day. Purdue opened the session with a 1:24.72 in the 200 medley relay, bookended by a 21.30 from Brady Samuels and Idris Muhammad in 18.80.

Northwestern closed the day in 6:27.55, including a 1:36.47 anchor from Cade Duncan. McKendree got one last big result with a 6:31.08 for 2nd place in that relay, including a 1:35.94 leadoff from Yavari. They are the defending NCAA D2 champions, swimming 6:22.46 in March last year.

Women’s Recap

Team Scores After Day 2:

  1. Purdue – 712
  2. Northwestern – 495.5
  3. Illinois – 349
  4. Missouri State – 229
  5. Marshall – 194
  6. Southern Illinois – 176
  7. Illinois State – 174.5
  8. McKendree – 117

Northwestern’s Ayla Spitz won her second event of the meet on Friday. Spitz is a graduate transfer from Cal who is making an immediate impact on the program and already knocking on the door of multiple school records.

After winning the 500 free in 4:40.25 on Thursday, a time that ranks her 3rd in school history, Spitz won the 200 free on Friday in 1:44.81, which ranks her 2nd in program history. Only Ashley Strouse, who swam 1:44.64 last season, has been better. Strouse is medically redshirting this season or Northwestern would have a great shot at hitting the ‘A’ cut in the 800 free relay.

The Illinois women continued to have a big meet by breaking two school records on Friday. The first came when Sydney Stoll swam 54.24 in the 100 fly, coming out ahead of an electric finish that saw Purdue’s Brinly Hardy touch 2nd in 54.27 and Missouri State’s Sami Roemer touch 3rd in 54.29.

Stoll’s swim broke the old school record of 54.92 that was set at the 2023 Big Ten Championships by the now-graduated Athena Salafatinos in 54.92.

Stoll’s previous personal best was a 55.86 done in February 2021 when she was a senior in high school. After 30 months without a best time, she broke through by 1.6 seconds.

Also breaking a school record for the Illinois women was Suvana Baskar in the 100 back. There she finished 2nd in 53.66 to break the record of 53.90 that she set leading off the 400 medley relay on Thursday.

She finished 2nd behind Southern Illinois’ Celia Pulido, who likewise broke her own school record. After a 52.28 leading off the 400 medley relay, she swam 51.99 in prelims and a 51.82 in finals. That not only broke the Southern Illinois school record, but the Meet Record that was set by Indiana’s Ali Rockett in 2017.

That time should easily qualify her for the NCAA Championships, marking the 2nd such qualification of her career after going to nationals in 2022.

This will mark the third-straight season in which Southern Illinois has sent a backstroker to NCAAs: the men’s team qualified Ruard van Renen in 2023, where he earned All-America honors.

Other individual winners on day 2 included Purdue freshman Kate Mouser, who swam 4:15.52 to win the 400 IM in a drop of three seconds. If she repeats that swim in the spring, it should be enough to get her into the B final at Big Tens (and not far from the A final) in an event where Purdue scored just 1 point last season.

The women’s 100 breast saw a tie between Illinois State’s Madyson Morse and Northwestern freshman Maggie Papanicholas. They put up matching times of 1:00.80.

Morse is the defending Missouri Valley Conference Champion in the 100 breast and CSCAA National Invitational Champion as well.

Purdue’s Sophia McAfee won her second diving event of the meet, adding the 1-meter title to a 3-meter win from Thursday.

Before the individual competition got underway, the session opened with a bang when Northwestern swam 1:39.26 to just out-touch Illinois’ 1:39.37. Illinois split their 400 medleys on Thursday, with some of their best swimmers on each relay, but were pretty close to their “A” relay on Friday, with the exception of the aforementioned 100 fly champion Sydney Stoll.

Baskar got Illinois out to a lead with a 25.02 split, but Northwestern’s Papanicholas pulled the Wildcats back into the race with a 27.60 breaststroke split – seven-tenths better than Kylee Sessions, who is Illinois’ star freshman recruit.

A back-and-forth battle, Logan Kuehne split 23.43 on the butterfly leg – acquitting the decision to use her over Stoll by outsplitting Northwestern star Spitz by half-a-second.

Illinois’ swim was a new school record, one of three on the day.

But Northwestern had one last ace up their sleeve: Lindsay Ervin, who won the 50 free early in the meet, split 22.44 to come from behind and cement victory.

The 800 free relay at the end of the session was another competitive race, but while Purdue clawed their way back, they couldn’t overcome Spitz’s 1:45.76 leadoff leg for Northwestern. The Wildcats ultimately won in 7:13.04 with Purdue 2nd in 7:14.67.


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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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