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Women’s diving improving as Big Tens approach

BY MITCH SMITH | JANUARY 25, 2010 7:30 AM

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The last regular-season Big Ten dual meet didn’t go as hoped for the Iowa women’s swimming and diving team.

Despite opening the meet with a victory in the 200 medley relay, the Hawkeyes managed only six first-place finishes, dropping their meet against Northwestern, 173.5-121.5.

In spite of the loss, diving continued to be a major strength for the Hawkeyes. Junior Veronica Rydze led Iowa with a first-place finish in the 3-meter and a third-place finish in the 1-meter. Her 292.35 score in the 3-meter ranks eighth-best in school history.

Freshman diver Mary Sue LeMay added a fourth-place spot in the 1-meter and finished fifth in the 3-meter, and senior Brittany Logan posted a pair of sixth-places finishes.

“Mary Sue and Brittany have improved so much over the last couple of meets,” Rydze said. “They’re doing new dives and doing really well.”

Rydze, last week’s Big Ten Diver of the Week, missed the beginning of the season with a back injury and didn’t begin competing until Dec. 11, against Iowa State.

Since returning, she has combined for three first-place, one second-place, and two third-place finishes during the last three meets. The Iowa City native has provided a much needed boost to an inexperienced group of divers as well.

With Rydze injured for part of the season and senior Deidre Freeman redshirting to study abroad in Spain, LeMay and Logan, a former Iowa gymnast, have had to learn how to dive on the fly.

The biggest improvement LeMay said she has made throughout the season has been breaking bad habits she learned in high school.

In diving, learning from one another is an important aspect of teaching the youngsters. Iowa’s two unseasoned women have also learned from some of Iowa’s male divers, because the men’s and women’s teams practice together.

“I’m a visual learner,” LeMay said. “It really helps to watch [the other divers], because they are so experienced. If Coach [Bob] Rydze tells me to do something a certain way, the divers are able to give me more feedback and show me how something is done.”

For Logan, the transition from gymnastics to diving has been enjoyable. Although she hasn’t had a first-place finish, she said, she has no regrets.

“I’ve really enjoyed diving this season,” she said. “It’s hard to believe that it’s almost over, because there is so much more that I want to learn. Being an athlete starting a new sport, they welcomed me with open arms and were so helpful. It made the transition easier.”

With the Big Ten championships only 24 days away, Rydze said, her back is healthy and she is feeling good.

“I’m on a good track heading into Big Tens,” she said. “I think I’m performing well. I still have a lot to work on, but I’m feeling confident.”


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