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AquaHawks head to Washington

BY MITCH SMITH | DECEMBER 03, 2009 7:30 AM

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After nearly a 2,000-mile journey, the Iowa women’s swimming team will compete on the national stage today in Federal Way, Wash.

The Aquahawks sent six of their best swimmers to compete in the AT&T Short Course National Championships. The USA Swimming-sanctioned meet is a three-day event, beginning today and wrapping up on Saturday.

The group is a good mix of younger swimmers and upperclassmen.

Senior Christine Kuczek, juniors Verity Hicks and Katarina Tour, sophomores Danielle Carty and Daniela Cubelic, and freshman Sarah Galvin will compete in Washington.

The event is the toughest competition the AquaHawks have seen thus far. Iowa hasn’t competed since the Hawkeye Invitational on Nov. 22, but Cubelic said the extra time to prepare has the AquaHawks better rested and poised to swim faster times.

The group will compete against hundreds of other swimmers from across the country, including some members of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team.

“We’re going to out there on an individual basis to get more experience,” Iowa head swimming coach Marc Long said. “They’re going to get a chance to swim against some amazing competition.”

Kuczek leads the way for the AquaHawks.

The senior is off to one of the best starts in her collegiate career with eight individual first-place finishes this year, in addition to having this season’s top times in the 50, 100, and 200 freestyle events.

Kuczek said getting herself in a position to score will hopefully get her closer to accomplishing the goal of competing at NCAA championships at the culmination of the season.

“I’d like to go lifetime-best time at this meet,” she said. “Getting lifetime best will give me both a good seed for Big Tens and set me up for ultimately my career goal of competing at NCAAs.”

Tour has also seen recent success for the AquaHawks, having set a Field House pool record on Nov. 21 in the 100 butterfly during the Hawkeye Invitational.

She also holds the AquaHawks’ season best time in the 200 individual medley, while Carty, Cubelic, and Hicks hold a season best time in an event this year, as well.

While the focus of the meet is to gain valuable experience individually, the squad is also focused on representing the Iowa program and getting the AquaHawk name out to the rest of the country.

“Getting a presence at this meet is important,” Long said. “It is going to be a chance to get our name out there and have our team seen far out on the West Coast and for people to see that we’ve got some really good things happening in our program.”

For some of the swimmers, such as Cubelic and Galvin, this will be their first opportunity to compete in a national event, which could produce some nerves. But Long said that a little bit of nervous energy can be a good thing.

“It’s about experience,” he said. “We want our swimmers to step up and see that they can race with the top competitors. A couple months from now they can use that experience when it really counts for us collegiately.”


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