Young men’s swimmers see a very bright future

BY JON LINDER | MARCH 3, 2009 7:20 AM

The Iowa men’s swimming and diving team took home ninth place at the Big Ten championships over this past weekend in West Lafayette, Ind., with a team score of 144.

Sophomore swimmer Conor Dwyer led the Hawkeyes throughout the three-day meet, picking up where he left off with 28 wins during the dual-meet season.

“We’re still probably the youngest team in the conference,” Dwyer said. “We did a lot this year, but we’ve got a bright future ahead. I’m pretty excited.”

Dwyer’s posted three individual NCAA provisional qualifying times and ended up with three scoring finishes for the Hawkeyes. He took home 12th in the 500 freestyle (4:22.35), fourth in the 200 freestyle (1:35.27), and 11th in the 100 freestyle (43.82). His qualifying time in the 100 free (43.67) broke former Iowa standout Krzystof Cwalina’s 15-year-old record.

Junior diver Mike Gilligan broke his own record on the platform (335.45) Feb. 28, after scoring in both springboard events; he finished 15th on the 3-meter and 13th on the 1-meter. Fellow junior Frank Van Dijkhuizen took 12th on the 1-meter for the Hawkeyes.

Iowa’s youth flexed its muscles in the final event of the meet, claiming fifth in the 400-freestyle relay. Dwyer was joined by a trio of freshmen in the event — Duncan Partridge, Ryan Phelan, and Paul Gordon.

The group sent a message that the young Hawkeyes will be a force at next year’s conference meet by claiming one of the highest Iowa relay finishes in recent years. The time was the second fastest in school history and an NCAA provisional qualifying time.

“We’re a couple guys away from being right there at the top,” Dwyer said. “There’s some guys on the team right now that I think could step up and make that difference, and we’ve got some good guys coming in.”

Partridge, Phelan, and Dwyer complemented their 400-free relay with eighth place in the 200-freestyle relay with sophomore Sean Hagan. Dwyer and juniors Nick Divan and Brian Farris were joined by senior Ryan Evans in Iowa’s oldest group, the seventh-place 800-freestyle relay.

Divan also finished 10th in the mile for Iowa, posting the fourth-best time in school history. The Hawkeyes collected a total of 55 collegiate bests and nine NCAA provisional qualifying times over the weekend.

Head swimming coach Marc Long is excited about the depth that will return next year after the time drops the team experienced at the end of the season.

“I know we’re going to have development from our freshmen,” he said. “There’s always a big difference when you go back for your second Big Ten meet.”

Iowa saw vast improvements in almost every individual and relay event from a year ago, despite a comparison to the final team score from the 2008 conference meet. The Hawkeyes scored 187 points last year, but the scoring format was tweaked this year because lane assignments were restricted at host Purdue’s pool.

Consequently, Iowa’s increase in the number of those who placed was offset in the scoring system by the conference cutting back on total points awarded in each event.

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