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Men’s swimming set to compete

BY PATRICK RAFFERTY | DECEMBER 03, 2009 7:30 AM

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The Iowa men’s swimming team will travel to Federal Way, Wash., today to compete in the AT&T Short Course National Championships.

The tournament, which will run through Dec. 5, features some of the best college and club swimming teams in the nation.

Junior cocaptain Max Dittmer, who will be one of the Hawkeyes competing in the event, said it’s key for the team to be swimming its best right now. He said all the swimmers feel strong, and they’ve all been placing a significant amount of emphasis on this meet.

“We’re just really excited to go swim,” he said. “Essentially the event is like any other big meet, but from our perspective … it’s the biggest meet this year.”

Dittmer said during recent seasons, the swimming world has taken Iowa for granted.

Despite registering wins in recent years against such teams as Michigan State, Wisconsin, Purdue, and Missouri and hanging with swimming powerhouse Minnesota, the Hawks have felt left out.

“We’ve been under the radar for a long time,” Dittmer said. “We’ve won big meets and not really gotten any credit for it. We’re really excited to go swim fast and put our name on the map.

“We definitely are in need of a coming-out party to turn this program around. And we think this could be the next big step to doing so.”

Assistant coach Kirk Hampleman said the swimmers have been pointing to this meet.

“We have a core group of qualifiers that have identified this as a meet where they can really break out and show up on the national level to swim against some of the best swimmers in the world,” he said. “It’s a great place for our swimmers to see and be around fast swimming.”

To qualify for the U.S. Nationals, a swimmer must make the U.S. National cut.

But the Hawkeyes decided to set a higher standard.

While most of the Hawkeyes have U.S. National cut time, the coaching staff conferred last spring and told the men they were going to use the more prestigious U.S. Open cut time as the standard for qualifying for this meet.

“We used the U.S. Open time cut, which is just a bit quicker, to help make this a little more of a special meet,” said head coach Marc Long. “We’re taking just under half the guys. We wanted our top relays there.”

The event is assembled similarly as a championship style meet with scorings for the team and individuals. Long said the structure of the event and the level of competition is what is most intriguing.

“We wanted to add this to the schedule to give our athletes an opportunity to compete against some of the best in the country,” he said. “And as exposure as they prepare for [the championship season].
“When you look at the seedings in the meet, there’s a lot of outstanding athletes there. We’re just looking to get some night swims, and get some experience in that environment. We really want our relays stepping up and to be in the final heat to get experience for the rest of the year.”


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