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AquaHawks fall to Minnesota

BY MITCH SMITH | NOVEMBER 09, 2009 7:20 AM

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The women’s swimming and diving team closed out its meet on Nov. 6 in dramatic fashion, despite losing to the Golden Gophers, 176-118.

Despite defeat, senior Christine Kuczek said there were plenty of positives to take from the meet as the AquaHawks build for the rest of the season.

“We did a really good job of stepping up and racing,” she said. “We didn’t let them get in our heads. We got some first places on them, and I think we stepped up and raced in a way they might not have expected.”

In the final leg of the 400 relay, Kuczek and Minnesota junior Alison Eggers were neck-and-neck. Eggers earned All-America honors last season and was part of the Minnesota 400 relay squad that took first at the Big Ten championships a year ago.

As both swimmers touched the finish, the Field House echoed loudly as hundreds of AquaHawks fans cheered when Kuczek and the rest of the Iowa relay team seized the event by one-tenth of a second. The rest of the Aquahawks relay squad included sophomores Daniela Cubelic and Danielle Carty and junior Verity Hicks.

“It’s a love-hate relationship between being an anchor on a relay like that,” Kuczek said. “It stinks being on the [starting] block. You feel real nervous, but it feels good when it’s done, and that’s the first time we’ve beat a Minnesota relay in a long time.”

Earlier in the week, Kuczek said this year was probably her best dual-meet season of her career so far.

Her success in the pool continued in the weekend meet.



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Kuczek took first in the 50 and 100 freestyle events, defeating Eggers again and fellow Gopher All-American Kaylee Jamison, respectively. The two individual victories gave Kuczek her sixth and seventh first-places finishes of the season and marked the first time she had finished first in a dual-meet against a Minnesota swimmer during her four years at Iowa, she said.

“That’s a big confidence booster for me,” she said. “Especially for girls hoping to go to NCAAs, like myself. To get up and race girls who are NCAA qualifiers and beat them is a really big accomplishment.”

The AquaHawks also continued its streak of success in the backstroke events.

Cocaptain Carty took first in the 100 backstroke, with Cubelic finishing second. Cubelic improved on her runner-up finish later in the meet when she took first in the 200 backstroke.

“They stepped up and raced well against a good Minnesota team,” Iowa head swimming coach Marc Long said of his backstrokers. “They had a good meet, and it was nice to see that. This time of year we look for them competing, and they did just that today.”

Junior Katarina Tour nabbed the only other first-place finish for the AquaHawks, taking the 200 individual medley.

In the 1- and 3-meter diving events, senior Brittany Logan and freshman Mary Sue LeMay each had a third- and fourth-place finish.

The diving events were dominated by Gopher sophomore Kelci Bryant, a member of the 2008 Olympic diving team in Beijing.

Iowa diving coach Bob Rydze, chairman of USA diving, has worked with Bryant in the past and said he hoped the fans were paying attention when she took to the board.

“I’ve seen her do a lot of dives that are some of the best you’ve ever seen,” he said. “She’s one of America’s best divers. Period.”

The AquaHawks have a slight break from action until the Hawkeye Invitational on Nov. 20-22, in which they will face Truman State, Western Illinois, and Northern Iowa.

“We have a lot more work to do before that meet and on throughout the season,” Long said.


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