AquaHawks finish sixth


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It’s been 14 years since the Iowa men’s swimming and diving team did what it just did.

The Hawkeyes sealed a sixth-place finish with 223 team points on Feb. 27 at the Big Ten championships — their highest since 1996, when they placed fifth. Ohio State placed first with 860.5 points, and Michigan was a close second.

The Hawkeyes also broke seven school records, a feat that impressed Iowa head coach Marc Long.

“I’m really proud of this team,” he said. “It’s something the staff and team have really worked hard to put together, to start moving up in the Big Ten. Obviously, we have larger goals in the future, but this was special.

“We had a lot of things to overcome this season, and in this meet, but we’re really excited for the future.”

Going into the last day of the event, Iowa was stuck in ninth place. Knowing they wanted to improve upon recent conference finishes, the Hawkeyes had to score points quickly.

With fewer than 15 points separating the sixth- through ninth-place teams heading into the final 400 free relay, Iowa finished fourth to score 30 points and secure sixth.

Freshman Jordan Huff said the Hawkeyes were there to race no matter who the opponent was, but they received an extra boost in the pool with the eventual champion Buckeye swimmers lined up next to them.

“We were racing them the whole time and just trying to beat them,” Huff said. “It speaks volumes to the scrappiness of this team, that regardless of the situation we’re in, we’re going to swim our hearts out. We clearly surprised some teams that didn’t see us coming, and we’re really pleased with the way things turned out.”

During the championships, all of Iowa’s freestyle relays (200, 400, and 800) placed fourth, helping the Hawkeyes score much needed points.

“From the point-side of things, relays are important,” sophomore Duncan Partridge said. “Relays kind of show who the ‘big dog’ teams are, and our performance shows that we have a solid freestyle core and that we’re a team definitely to be contending with in all the relay spots.”

With Iowa breaking seven school records, it was only fitting it begin with the team’s strength — the relay. The 800 free relay team of Huff, sophomores Paul Gordon and Duncan Partridge, and senior Brian Farris (6:27.66) bested the previous school mark by nearly two seconds.

The relay squads continued to break records with 200 medley relay team of juniors Max Dittmer and Sean Hagan, sophomore Ryan Phelan, and Gordon posting a time of 1:29.02.

The 400 medley relay team of Dittmer, Gordon, Partridge, and senior Matt Ryan earned another record with a time of 3:15.37.

Hagan then set a school record in the 200 intermediate medley (1:47.73) followed by freshman Byron Butler in the 200 backstroke (1:45.30).

In diving, senior Michael Gilligan posted a score of 335.45 for Iowa’s highest-ever platform diving score.

Gordon, who swam a personal best in the 100 free preliminaries (43.88) said the records helped the team score points to move up in the standings.

“I think we knew in the back of our minds that we were all looking at the records up on the boards, but I don’t think any of us thought they were touchable until we swam the times,” he said. “We knew the times we wanted to go, but when we got the school record, it was great to see. There’s been a lot of great history at Iowa, and to get our names on the board is especially rewarding after a long season.”

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