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Women’s swimming and diving hosts final home meet

BY MITCH SMITH | FEBRUARY 05, 2010 7:30 AM

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Emotions will be high this evening when the Iowa women’s swimming and diving team takes to the pool.

Nine Hawkeye seniors will compete in their final home meet when Iowa faces Northern Iowa and Western Illinois at 5 p.m. today. The double-dual is free to the public.

The Hawkeyes (6-6, 2-3) have had success against both the Leathernecks and the Panthers. Iowa defeated both teams earlier this season during the Hawkeye Invitational, Nov. 20-22, 2009.

In addition to the graduating swimmers, an 83-year-old senior will also see the last leg of NCAA competition. Today’s meet will be the final collegiate swim meet in the rich history of the Field House pool.

“It’s definitely going to be really emotional,” senior Christine Kuczek said. “It’s pretty cool to be a member of the last senior class to swim in the Field House. It’ll be really emotional to say goodbye to this place.”

However, the true goodbye will come on April 17 at the Hawkeye Alumni Meet.

The senior class, composed of Kuczek, Julie deBruin, Julie Feingold, Stacia Johns, Hilary Leigh, Brittany Logan, Katie Michelau, Laura Mozdzen, and Nicki Wex has helped the program grow.

“The team has changed tremendously,” Leigh said. “The focus my freshman year wasn’t as serious. We didn’t have as high of goals. And now we’re really concentrating on those high-end meets — Big Tens, NCAAs, Nationals, and Olympic meets. That wasn’t even necessarily in the realm for this team when I came in as a freshman.”

Iowa has won 24 dual meets over the past four years. If the squad defeats both opponents this weekend, it will have eight wins for the first time since the 2005-06 season.

In addition to team success, the seniors have notched historical individual accomplishments, as well. The eight veteran swimmers (Logan is a diver) have combined for 16 top-10 finishing times while at Iowa.

Leading the way is Kuczek, who holds six times ranking in the top-10, including the best score in the 100 freestyle. Feingold and Mozdzen are close behind with five and four top 10s, respectively, and deBruin and Michelau each hold one apiece.

“This group of seniors has really provided the program with a lot of stability,” Iowa head swimming coach Marc Long said. “They’re all exceptional young women. We’ll miss them in a variety of fronts. Not only in the pool, but as leaders.”

This is an important meet for the Hawkeyes, Long said, in order to gain momentum heading into the postseason. While the meet will honor the seniors and their commitment to the program, the Hawkeyes cannot overlook their opponents and what is yet to come after this meet, he said.

This is the final meet before the squad competes in the Big Ten championships in West Lafayette, Ind.

Leigh and the rest of the seniors plan to continue to keep the team focused and moving in the right direction.

“We hope to go out with a bang and a win,” she said.


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