Women’s swimming and diving wins by 1 point


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Every point mattered for the Iowa women’s swimming and diving team on Jan. 16.

The Hawkeyes ended an era in dramatic fashion in the Field House, defeating Illinois in the closest dual meet of the season, 150.5-149.5.

The meet marked the final Big Ten competition in the 83-year history of the Field House pool. And, coincidentally, the era ended exactly as it began.

The Hawkeyes’ first Big Ten meet in 1928 in the Field House was also in January against Illinois, Iowa head swimming coach Marc Long said.

Iowa captured first-place finishes in 12 of the 16 events. However, the Hawkeyes won their first two by 0.31 and 0.19 seconds, respectively.

The Fighting Illini also hung around thanks in part to four first-place finishes, in addition to second- and third-place finishes in 10 other events.

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“Both teams started off really well, so it was close all the way through,” junior cocaptain Verity Hicks said. “[Illinois] just kept clawing back at us.”

Only eight points separated the two squads heading into the final two events — the 200 individual medley and the 400 freestyle relay. The deciding factor came at the end of the 200 individual medley, when the Hawkeyes and Illini tied for third place.

Iowa junior Kelsie Neubauer and Illinois senior Jen Ivarson touched the wall pad at the same time, and the draw resulted in the points for third and fourth place being split.

Each swimmer earned 2.5 points for her team. Normally, three points are awarded for third place and two for fourth.

“Whoever would have won that if it weren’t a tie probably would have won the meet,” Long said. “I’m proud of our team for stepping up. The Big Ten is such an incredibly deep conference.”

The Hawkeyes went on to win the final event — the 400 freestyle relay — and ultimately the meet.

Senior Christine Kuczek picked up where she left off in the first semester, posting three individual wins and swimming the final leg for the first-place 400 freestyle relay team.

With the Big Ten championships under a month away, she said beating a competitive Big Ten team gives the Hawkeyes a boost in confidence.

“The Illini have always been a rival of ours,” she said. “It feels good to beat them. … But also it’s motivation to see the things we need to work on.”

Numerous other Hawkeye swimmers were also successful. Junior Katarina Tour took first in two events, and Hicks, Neubauer, and sophomore Daniela Cubelic added individual firsts.

The diving team had its most successful meet of the season.

Junior Veronica Rydze tallied first-place finishes in both the 1- and 3-meter dives, with a 274.96 mark in the 1-meter — the ninth-best score in school history.

Feb. 5 will not only be the final home meet for the nine seniors — eight swimmers and one diver — but also for the Field House pool. The Hawkeyes will face Western Illinois and Northern Iowa.

“It’s getting me really emotional because I can’t believe I only have three more meets and then the Big Tens left,” Kuczek said. “It’s been a long 16 years of swimming, but this is a good way to round it out.”

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