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Aquahawks look to build on last year’s success

BY MITCH SMITH | OCTOBER 02, 2009 7:20 AM

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After 35 years, the Iowa women’s swimming and diving team will have a new home next season.

The Field House has been the home of the swimming and diving program for 83 years.

When the pool was dedicated in 1927, it was the largest indoor swimming pool in the world. It is also the place where the butterfly stroke was invented.

“The place just oozes tradition,” head swimming coach Marc Long said.

After this season, the Aquahawks will relocate to the new Campus Recreation and Wellness Center being built near the interseciton of Burlingston and Madison Streets.

The final meet at the Field House will be an alumni meet in April 2010.

Despite the rich history the women’s team has had at the Field House — 25 All-Americans and 12 individual Big Ten champions — the move is necessary because the many limitations the Field House pool offers, including the length of the pool, shallowness, and height of the diving towers.

Bob Rydze, Iowa’s diving coach for the past 35 years, has a “love-hate relationship” with the Field House.

“It’s going to be sad in a lot of respects because of all the memories,” he said “But there are days that are frustrating.”

Being the last season in the historic venue, the women’s swimming team wants to do well and send the Field House out on a good note.

“It will be a lot about defending at home, because it is our last year,” said senior cocaptain Stacia Johns, an Iowa native who swam at the Field House as a child. “It’s going to be a very special year.”

The women’s team returns 19 letterwinners, including the leader in 12 of the 14 individual events, from a team that finished 8-3 and ninth in the Big Ten last season.

Seven school records fell last season — four in individual events and three in relays.

All but one of the record-holders returns this season, including the entire 200-meter medley relay team and last year’s team MVP Katarina Tour.

Tour, a junior, set school records in three individual events last season and ranks ninth on Iowa’s all-time best performers list. She also swam on the record-setting 200 medley relay and 400-meter freestyle relay teams.

Also returning is sophomore cocaptain Danielle Carty, who placed first in the 50-meter backstroke and the 200-meter medley relay at the Canadian Games this summer.

Junior Veronica Rydze will lead the diving team this season, stepping in for senior Deidre Freeman, who is studying in Spain this semester.

“We’re looking to create a culture to take us to the next level,” Long said. “Not just at the Big Ten championships but at the national level.”

The Aquahawks will have an intrasquad meet on at 9 a.m. Saturday. It is a “Pink Meet” to raise awareness of breast cancer.

The season will officially begin on Oct. 9 with a road meet against Truman State.

“We’re competing this year, not just for our team, but also for the alumni,” Carty said. “We want to make everyone proud and swim fast this year.”


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