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Men’s swimming and diving to take on Northwestern

BY PATRICK RAFFERTY | JANUARY 22, 2010 7:30 AM

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Last season, the Iowa men’s swimming and diving team upset Northwestern in the Field House.

When they travel to Evanston, Ill., this weekend, the Hawkeyes know the Wildcats won’t think of them as frivolous fledglings this time around. Boasting a team of decorated swimmers and close to being one of the top 25 teams in the nation, they’ll be waiting.

“Northwestern has had a tremendous last decade of swimming. NCAA champions, Big Ten record holders — they’re clearly a very proud program,” Iowa head coach Marc Long said. “We were able to get them last year, and I know they’re going to be ready for us this year at Northwesten.”

But while the Hawkeyes edged the Wildcats in the squads’ last meeting, and while the Hawks have only lost one meet so far this season, Long said history won’t matter much this time around.

“It may give our guys some confidence, but really, that’s all thrown out the window,” he said. “We just need to come up, and race hard, and give it our best shot, and see what happens.”

One thing that will be different, however, is the pool, a facet that should favor the Wildcats.

Assistant coach Kirk Hampleman said the Hawkeyes weren’t taken seriously after last year’s upset in Iowa City. Now, they are eager to prove they belong.

“We were able to beat them at home, and I think a lot of people around the Big Ten feel like the only reason we won that meet was because we were at home,” Hampleman said. “I’m sure our guys want to prove they can beat Northwestern on the road.”

Both teams have relied on a plethora of young talent, though. Iowa assistant coach Frannie Malone said the Hawkeyes are built much like Northwestern, which should make each event tight.

There are no easy Big Ten meets, she said — especially with the conference championships barely a month away with one final dual meet in between.

“Every meet is important, but right now we’re looking to see some sharpening up in our races,” she said. “Everybody should be racing a little bit sharper. Even though they’re broken down from training camp and hard racing, we still like to see the races developing.”

The Hawkeyes received a chance to sharpen themselves recently during their winter-break trip to Florida. While there, the team swam in the same heated pool used for water-polo competition during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. And nothing could have prevented the swimmers from jumping into the 80-degree water.

Freshman Jordan Huff said even though the temperature hovered near 40 degrees outside, his teammates weren’t planning to pack up and travel back west. He also said he’s hoping the good week of training will speak for itself both this weekend at Northwestern and later during the Big Ten championships.

“We had a very successful Hawkeye Invitational and the group that went to nationals was quite successful as well,” Huff said. “We’re just hoping to continue what the fall brought us, which was a lot of fast times and a lot of winning events.”


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