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Iowa women’s swimming and diving is in 9th, but with excellent records

BY EVELYN LAU | FEBRUARY 24, 2009 7:29 AM

Usually, a ninth-place finish isn’t much to brag about. Unless, of course, a team breaks seven school records and posts three NCAA B-cut performance times — then maybe it deserves some recognition.

While competing at the Big Ten championships in Ann Arbor, Mich., the Iowa women’s swimming and diving team managed to pull those records off. Heading into the competition, the Big Ten had five teams ranked in the Top 25 and was considered one of the deepest conferences in the country.

“It’s an extremely deep conference. There are 11 teams with a minimum of 26 athletes on each team,” Iowa swimming head coach Marc Long said. “We were small, we brought 18 swimmers and three divers, so to get into the top 16 scoring position, can be difficult at times, let alone top eight.”
Sophomore Katarina Tour and junior Christine Kuczek led the way for the AquaHawks. Tour set new school marks in the 100 breaststroke (1:01.95) and 200 individual medley (2:01.33), and Kuczek broke her own record in the 100 freestyle with a time of 50.21.

“I’ve been practicing way harder this year than last year,” Tour said. “It’s been much easier; I know what’s going on in practice, I know what to expect from the coaches, and what they can expect from me.”



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Long was impressed with Tour’s showing, especially because he believes her potential is skyrocketing and she can still add more to her repertoire.

“Katarina’s got a great future, and she’s really a mature swimmer coming over from Sweden and had been a great age-group swimmer,” Long said. “She kind of got reinvigorated here at school. She worked extremely hard this year. She’s got real explosive ability, and sprinting ability so who knows?

“I’m not even sure if the breaststroke is her best event, and that’s the one where she broke a record in.”

The relay teams also played a strong role. The 200-medley relay broke the school record with a time of 1:41.33. The 200- and 400-freestyle relay teams both finished eighth but also set Iowa records. The 200-freestyle team, consisting of freshman Danielle Carty, Tour, freshman Daniela Cubelic, and junior Julie deBruin hit a time of 1:41.33. Closing out the meet as they started, the 400-freestyle quartet of Cubelic, Kuczek, Tour, and senior Alison Gschwend posted a NCAA B-cut school-record time of 3:21.27.

“I thought our relays did excellent, finishing in the top eight,” Long said. “We’re always looking for more of course, and we knew we were a small team and didn’t have much depth, but we were looking for great performances in the relays and obviously trying to get women in scoring position. “Overall good, but it’s just a little step into the future of what the program needs to be doing.”

On the diving side, junior Deidre Freeman had an impressive showing, finishing eighth in the 3-meter and 12th in the 1-meter dives. She also earned the Iowa Highest Point Award for netting 16 points for the AquaHawks with her placement finishes.

However, she felt a bit let down because she believes her nerves had gotten the best of her before competing.

“I was a little disappointed,” she said. “I accomplished my goal which was to make top eight on at least one board. I thought it was a mediocre meet. I think my nerves kind of got to me on the 3 meter, but it was a good experience for me.”

Despite the decent team showing, Long believes that the squad has made strides towards the future of the program.

“We still have a long way to go to move up as a team to get into that top five,” he said. “But we feel we’re definitely in the right direction and have some real hungry individuals so we’re excited for the future.”


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