AquaHawks host invitational


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With four home meets remaining in the 2009-10 season, the Field House pool is nearing its end as the host site for the AquaHawks.

The Iowa women’s swimming team holds the first-ever Hawkeye Invitational today with preliminary competition beginning at 11 a.m. and the finals starting at 6 p.m.

The squad will face Northern Iowa, Truman State, and Western Illinois in a championship-style format meet.

The event will continue on Saturday and Nov. 22 with preliminary racing starting at 10 a.m. Finals begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday and 4 p.m. on Nov. 22.

“It’s been a while since we’ve had an invitational like this,” Iowa head swimming coach Marc Long said. “We used to host an invitational called the ‘Iowa Invitational’ until the mid-90s. We’ve really wanted to get an event like this on our campus because it gives us such a great opportunity to race in a championship environment.”

The Field House pool will be stretched to its limits this weekend, Long said, noting that the diving team won’t be able to compete because of a lack of space.

The AquaHawks defeated Truman State earlier this season. Western Illinois heads to Iowa City after taking fourth at the House of Champions meet in Indianapolis, and Northern Iowa is coming off losses to Northern Colorado and South Dakota State.

“We have some teams coming in here that are really shooting for their cuts in their respective division,” Long said. “They’ll be hungry to beat some Iowa Hawkeyes that’s for sure. As far as intensity of a Big Ten meet, probably not. But as far as experience, it gives our swimmers some great opportunities to race.”

For some of the swimmers, such as senior Christine Kuczek and junior Verity Hicks, it will be an opportunity to prepare for the ConocoPhillips Short Course National Championships. Both women will compete in the event in Federal Way, Wash., on Dec. 3-5.

Kuczek has seven individual first-place finishes this season; Hicks has five.

“I’m looking to swim some good races and try to get some season best times,” she said. “It will be nice to get some racing in before nationals to see where I’m at. Any more time I have practicing in the pool is always good.”

Despite the 83-year-old pool’s antiquity and its many flaws, the AquaHawks are poised to defend the pool they have long called home.

“This is the only invitational we’ve had since I’ve been here,” senior Julie Feingold said. “It’s the last season in the Field House, so coming out with big wins and winning races is really important because this is our Field House, and we like to defend it.”

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