AquaHawks face Golden Gophers


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Members of the Iowa women’s swimming and diving team know they have a tough meet ahead of them today.

The 4-1 AquaHawks will face Minnesota in the Field House at 5 p.m. The meet is free for all students and members of the general public.

Iowa has beaten Minnesota only six times in 28 meetings. The Gophers got the best of the AquaHawks last year, taking 12 of 16 events to win, 185-110.5.

The Gophers have won 16 of their last 17 dual-meets dating back to 2007, and they are coming off a season-opening win on Oct. 30 against Wisconsin — a squad that handily defeated the AquaHawks earlier this year.

Minnesota returns 11 swimmers the team that finished 11th in the nation last season. Eight of those 11 swimmers earned All-America awards last year.

“Minnesota’s a very talented, very deep team,” Iowa assistant coach Frannie Malone said. “We will definitely have to swim at our absolute best this weekend. But we’re looking forward to it.”

Iowa hasn’t competed in nearly two weeks, defeating Michigan State, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Missouri State in its last meet on Oct. 23 and 24.

The team hopes the extra week of practice has better prepared Iowa’s swimmers and divers for competing against the difficult Minnesota group.

“We had a really tough week of training last week,” senior Christine Kuczek said. “Having that week off from competition gave us the opportunity to train really hard.”

The squad will depend on its experienced swimmers to make a splash and lead Iowa in most of its events.

Seniors Kuczek and Julie Feingold and junior Verity Hicks each have five first-place finishes to their credit. Senior Laura Mozdzen and junior Katarina Tour have added three victories.

Kuczek said 2009 is probably one of her best dual-meet seasons of her career thus far, but she also said there’s room for improvement.

“I’d like be at the NCAAs this year,” she said. “I need to keep taking steps toward that goal by getting faster and faster each dual meet. Racing against the Minnesota girls who have qualified for NCAAs in the past will be a really good challenge for me.”

The AquaHawks are also getting great races from some of its younger swimmers, as well.

Sophomore Daniela Cubelic has dominated the backstroke events in the team’s last two meets, taking first in all four of the backstroke events.

“Time-wise, I’m exactly where I want to be,” she said. “I swam my fastest this season in the 100 backstroke already. Hopefully, I will just continue to improve from here.”

Fellow sophomore Danielle Carty has added a first-place finished along with four second-place finishes this season.

The AquaHawks know they are the underdogs against the Gophers, but they don’t care how Minnesota has performed against other teams.

“They put up some pretty fast times against Wisconsin,” Kuczek said. “But it’s all about how they race against us, not how they race against other teams. Hopefully, we can get in there and shake them up a little bit.”

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