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Women’s swimming and diving face Northwestern

BY MITCH SMITH | JANUARY 22, 2010 7:30 AM

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In order to end the Big Ten regular season strong, the Iowa women’s swimming and diving team will have to swim its best against one of the toughest teams in the country.

Iowa will travel to Evanston, Ill., on Saturday for an 11 a.m. meet against Northwestern. The Wildcats are ranked No. 23 in the latest College Swimming Coaches Association of America poll, but they are coming off a loss to No. 16 Michigan.

Competing against top talent is nothing new for the Hawkeyes.

The Big Ten boasts some of the best swimming and diving teams in the country, with six squads in the top 25 and another three (including Iowa) receiving top-25 votes.

“[The Wildcats are] pretty darn good,” Iowa assistant swim coach Frannie Malone said. “In the Big Ten, you’re always racing against some of the top teams. We’re used to that. We’re prepared for that. We just take advantage of being able to go up there and getting to race against some of the best people.”

While the Wildcats are coming off a loss, the Hawkeyes are flying high after a one-point victory on Jan. 16 against Illinois.

Senior Christine Kuczek continues to lead the charge for the Hawkeyes, notching three more individual victories in last weekend’s dual meet with the Fighting Illini.

Against Northwestern, she hopes to fly.

“They have really good freestylers,” Kuczek said. “I’ve got my work cut out for me, but those are the girls I’m going to be competing with at Big Tens. My goal is to get up there, and race them, and just expect greatness, and do my best.”

The diving squad hopes for continued success this weekend after having its best meet against the Illini.

Junior Veronica Rydze, a recent Big Ten Diver of the Week, swept the diving events and posted her collegiate-best score in the 1-meter. The score also ranks ninth in school history.

With only three more meets before the Hawkeyes travel to the Big Ten championships in West Lafayette, Ind., Kuczek said it is important to close out the regular season on a good note.

“It’s really important to have a positive meet,” she said. “We only get to swim our races three more times before Big Tens. It’s really important to not only work on the logistics of your races and racing the people next to you but also just confidence in seeing your times improve.”

Saturday will mark the final regular-season Big Ten meet for a senior class that has greatly contributed to the Hawkeye program over the past four years.

The Hawkeyes have nine seniors — swimmers Julie deBruin, Julie Feingold, Stacia Johns, Hilary Leigh, Kuczek, Katie Michelau, Laura Mozdzen, Nicki Wex, and diver Brittany Logan. Iowa head swimming coach Marc Long said the group has helped “bring a lot of pride to the program.”

“We’re getting some great performances out of our seniors this year. They’re really finishing strong,”he said. “They’re a good example for the underclassmen to see that not only in the pool do you get stronger and faster, but outside the pool, they’ve been great leaders.”


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