Hawks coming in hungry, shaved to swimming/diving Big Ten championships


The slate has been wiped clean for the Iowa men’s swimming and diving team.

The men of the Field House pool have shaved their beard-growths and feel primed for the Big Ten championships, which have been a point of emphasis throughout one of the best dual-meet seasons in recent decades.

Iowa defeated Wisconsin for the first time since 1998 early in the season and followed the feat with an impressive win over Big Ten power Northwestern for the first time since 2000. On Jan. 31, the Hawkeyes downed then-No. 24 Missouri to finish the program’s first undefeated season at home in more than a decade. Despite all the success, the resurgent team insists it still hasn’t come close to its biggest goal of the season.

“We’re going to surprise some people this weekend,” junior Nick Divan said. “I think we’re going to drop a bomb.”

When Iowa takes to the pool today, it will try to show that the program is headed back to its 1980s form. Throughout the ’80s, Iowa flexed its Big Ten might, claiming two conference titles and finishing in the top three for 10-straight years.

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Conor Dwyer will lead the Hawkeyes this weekend after posting 28 first-place finishes in the regular season. There is arguably no one hotter in the conference than the Iowa sophomore as teams make their way to West Lafayette, Ind., for the annual meet. Dwyer has not lost a race — relay or individual — since Dec. 7.

Iowa will also bring a solid nucleus to the diving competition in senior Drew DeLashmutt and juniors Frank Van Dijkhuizen and Mike Gilligan. Van Dijkhuizen was named Big Ten Diver of the Week after winning both the 3-meter and 1-meter springboards against Northwestern. All three men have claimed first place in at least one event this season.

“Everyone wants to improve on his personal best. But you have to take it one step at a time,” Gilligan said. “Our goal is to make finals, so [we] really have to work hard in prelims.”

Van Dijkhuizen and Gilligan both claimed 12th-place finishes a year ago at Big Tens — Van Dijkhuizen on the 1-meter and Gilligan on the platform.

Iowa’s lone loss this season was at No. 11 Minnesota on Nov. 7. The Hawkeyes will be joined by six teams currently ranked in the top-25 this weekend. The Hawkeyes have fared well against ranked opponents so far this season, posting a 4-1 record against ranked foes.

Underclassmen have stepped up in a big way for Iowa this season, claiming the top times in 10 of 14 individual events and swimming in 90 percent of the team’s relay legs.

“They’re confident, they’re competitive. They really want to make a difference,” head swimming coach Marc Long said. “We know we’re still a little bit short-handed as far as depth, but they’re hungry.”

Having defeated four of the 10 conference teams this season, the Hawkeyes are eyeing the program’s first top-five finish in the conference since 1996.

“We know there’s a much bigger picture out there than dual meets,” Long said. “We’re excited to go to a championship format. It’s a much bigger stage.”

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