The Tigers' freshman class is led by swimmers Noah Cardwell and Jacob White and divers Brayden Chou and Christian O'Donnell.
Northwestern will shoot for a fifth straight MIC championship this season. The Tigers edged Western by three points (280-277) in last season's meet.
"We're trying to stress to them that they have a target on their backs. Other teams in the conference are looking to dethrone them so they have their work cut out for them," Britten said. "It's definitely possible, it's definitely a goal, but they need to understand other teams are wanting to beat them. They'll need to work hard and I'm confident they will."
Equipped with a 31-man squad which includes three swimmers who had a hand in five MIC individual titles, Brad Bennett's Panthers are looking to contend for a conference crown once again after losing out to the Tigers by three points last season.
"We’re ready to go," Bennett said. "Our guys keep bringing up how close the conference meet was last year. That’s put a little vinegar in their blood. They're not over that and they shouldn’t be. It was a close meet that came down to not doing as well as we could’ve in a couple events. They’re ready to make that difference up in a big way, and make the most out of this season.”
Leading Western's charge is sophomore Glen Brown, who was a triple winner in the MIC meet and finished sixth or better in three events in last year's sectional. As a freshman, he was the conference champion in the 100 butterfly and 200 IM and swam a leg on the victorious 400 free relay team. He finished fifth in the 200 freestyle and sixth in the 500 free in the sectional meet.