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Women AquaHawks reflect on season, look to future

BY MITCH SMITH | FEBRUARY 24, 2010 7:30 AM

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The Iowa women’s swimming and diving team had two goals for the 2009-10 season.

No. 1: Go undefeated at home during its final season in the 83-year history of the Field House pool.

No. 2: Create a presence on the national level.

The Hawkeyes can partially mark off the first. Iowa lost only one meet at home all year, winning the Hawkeye Invitational and going 6-1 in home dual meets before closing out the regular season with two wins during the final meet in the historic facility.

The second goal, though, may take another year to scratch after a ninth-place finish at the Big Ten championships in West Lafayette, Ind.

“We were a lot stronger in dual meets this year than last year,” sophomore cocaptain Danielle Carty said. “Going from dual meet to dual meet is hard, but we did a good job of getting up and racing well.”

The same strong performances in the pool are what helped the team garner more national exposure. Junior Katarina Tour showed why she earned team MVP honors last year.

The native of Stockholm, Sweden, led the Hawkeyes with 14 individual wins, set a pool record in the 100 butterfly, and finished the highest of any Hawkeye swimmer at the Big Ten championships — 10th-place in the 100 breaststroke.

Senior Christine Kuczek won 13 individual events during the season.

Two other AquaHawks also earned individual honors during the season. Junior swimmer Verity Hicks and diver Veronica Rydze earned Big Ten Swimmer and Diver of the Week honors.

The team also earned top-25 votes in the College Swimming Coaches Association of American poll and finished in the top half at the AT&T Short Course National Championships.

Rydze led Iowa on the diving board. The Iowa City native had the best overall finish of any Hawkeye at the Big Ten meet — eighth in the 1-meter competition.

Despite having an inexperienced group of divers and Rydze missing half the season with a back injury, Iowa diving coach Bob Rydze dubbed the season a success.

“It’s always a successful season no matter what happens,” he said. “As long as the girls work hard and are having fun, going to class, and doing the things they are supposed to doing. To me, that’s a successful season.”

The AquaHawks will return five of their best swimmers next season — Tour, Carty, Hicks, sophomore Daniela Cubelic, and freshman Lauren Eytalis.

For diving, the squad returns Rydze and freshman Mary Sue Le May, in addition to welcoming Deidre Freeman back to the team after a redshirt year.

With the brand-new Campus Recreation and Wellness Center housing the team for the 2010-11 campaign and many experienced swimmers and divers returning, the squad is excited about the future.

“I’m already thinking about next season,” Tour said. “We’re getting the new pool, which is a huge change and means we should take our team to a whole new level. The attitude of our team is changing. I’m very much looking forward to next season, and I have high expectations for myself and for my team.”


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