Kuczek, Hawkeyes send seniors out with two wins


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Christine Kuczek wasn’t about to let a case of walking pneumonia keep her from swimming on senior day.

Despite the illness, the senior shone in her final regular-season meet, helping the Iowa women’s swimming and diving team to victories over Northern Iowa and Western Illinois on Feb. 5 in the Field House.

The Hawkeyes dominated the meet, downing Northern Iowa, 160-60, and Western Illinois, 168-60.
In addition to a first-place in the 50 freestyle, the Deerfield, Ill., native swam the final leg for the 200-freestyle relay team.

The relay squad picked up a first-place finish to close out the meet and an era. The 200-freestyle relay was the final female event in the 83-year history of the Field House pool.

“I love that anchor spot,” Kuczek said. “Sometimes I hate it, but today it was really fun. Knowing I was the last one swimming was what got me through it. It was really exciting to touch that wall and hear everyone cheer.”

She finished the regular season with 13 individual first-place finishes, ending her Hawkeye swimming career with 36 individual wins — capping a memorable four years.

The freestyler set the school record in the 100 freestyle as a sophomore, and then beat her own mark as a junior with a time of 50.21. In addition to the individual records, she swam a leg for the school-record setting 200- and 400-freestyle relay teams.

Her pool performances also earned her the women’s swimming team’s MVP honor during her freshman and sophomore seasons.

“She’s been such a great leader,” Iowa head swimming coach Marc Long said. “The team counts on her to swim in these relay events, usually in the anchor spot to get that last point that we need.”

These four years have also been an amazing ride for her parents, Ted and Cheryl Kuczek.

Her mother and father have been the unofficial “superfans” for the Hawkeye swimming program.

During home meets this year, Ted Kuczek walked around the Field House donning a black and gold wig and a pair of bib overalls, and Cheryl Kuczek sported a black and gold striped skirt.

Ted Kuczek also led Iowa fans in cheers, such as “Let’s Go Hawks. Hoo.” and “Hawkeye Relay.”

“Every year, someone rose to the challenge to keep the crowd going and lead a cheer,” Ted Kuczek said. “I’m humbled and honored to lead this great group of Iowa parents and fans. They probably look at me as a nut job every once in a while, but they always get up and cheer.”

Although the season isn’t over for Christine Kuczek and the Hawkeyes, Feb. 5 was a night to look back on her four years in Iowa City.

She said she hopes this year’s senior class helped cement a legacy that keeps the program strong.

“I’m really glad to be a part of what we did over the past four years,” she said. “I can’t wait to come back as an alumna and see everything that was built through my four years and beyond.”

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