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Men’s swimming and diving ready for Shamrock Invite

BY PATRICK RAFFERTY | JANUARY 29, 2010 7:30 AM

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Nearing the end of the regular season, the Iowa men’s swimming and diving team can feel the urgency.

The Hawkeyes (6-1) have dropped only one dual meet on the season, showing consistency and improvement as the season has progressed.

With nearly a month until the Big Ten championships, Iowa will depart for South Bend, Ind., to take on Notre Dame, Missouri, and Denver in the Shamrock Invitational this weekend.

“We’re working hard, still preparing for Big Tens,” Iowa assistant coach Frannie Malone said. “We’re not going to let up too much, but were trying to get [the team] mentally prepared for a big challenge.”

The Shamrock Invitational is a championship-style meet similar to the Big Ten meet. With the Hawkeyes competing against three other squads, they have a chance to pick up three dual meet wins with a first-place finish.

Sophomore Paul Gordon said Iowa is looking to keep its pace on the season.

“Were hungry to beat some teams from other conferences, represent the Big Ten,” the sophomore said. “The teams we’re up against have some talented swimmers and divers, and it’s going to be a tough meet. … Chances are the most motivated team will win. That’s what we’re going to bring into the meet, so we can take care of it.”

With the conference title hunt beginning on Feb. 24, team members said they plan to treat the weekend meet as though it were a practice. After swimming the Hawkeye Invitational and U.S. Nationals earlier in the season, Iowa is familiar with this style of competition.

“This is going to be a more of a training-style preparation more than anything,” Gordon said. “If we know that we can step up and swim — seven, eight events a day — then we know we’ll be just fine at Big Tens.”

Iowa is no stranger to Missouri, though. The Hawkeyes upset the then-ranked No. 24 Tigers last season, 166-134.

But that victory can’t be factored into estimating Missouri’s caliber this year, Gordon said.

“This time of the season, it’s always hard to gauge opponents on previous wins and losses,” he said. “There might be injuries, or swimmers may have made a completely different turnaround.

Swimming has such a long season that an opponent could be more difficult earlier in the season.”

Sophomore Duncan Partridge said he feels the season coming to a close, but Iowa isn’t lacking in focus. Instead, the Hawkeyes sense a perfect opportunity to solidify their racing skills.

“It’s going to be real intense,” Partridge said. “It’s kind of condensing Big Tens into one and a half days. Most people are going to swim four events a days. It’s really going to get us in the racing style mood. Just gritty racing all weekend.”

Partridge and the Hawkeyes hope to use the eagerness they have gained throughout the season to win the Shamrock Invitational and propel them into the Big Ten championships.

“Our program is on the up rise, and it has been,” Partridge said. “Every time we beat a tough team — like Northwestern or Wisconsin — earlier in the year, it makes us feel more confident. But really, it just makes us hungry for more. We just want to go and beat as many teams as we can and prove ourselves.”


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