Iowa men's swimming team enjoys a home advantage


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The Iowa men's swimming and diving team used all its time off in the past month to its advantage, and they beat six other teams as the second Hawkeye Invitational, which concluded Sunday at the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center.

Teams from Denver, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and South Dakota State were unable to withstand a hometown crowd and the Hawkeye swimmers as the squad finished with a score of 1,177.5. Notre Dame finished in second with a score of 822, and Denver came in third with 765.

The men never trailed — they finished every day of the three-day invitational in first place. The 200 free relay squad — consisting of senior Sean Hagan, junior Ryan Phelan, sophomore Duncan Partridge, and freshman Devon Meeks — finished first with an NCAA "B" qualifying time of 1:20.93.
A NCAA "B" qualifying time means that with that time, the swimmer can qualify for NCAA provisionals.

"It was right where we needed to be," head coach Marc Long said. "There's a lot of battling going on and a lot of pride in the relays.

"They stepped it up on the relays, and we were able to mix things up and see people in different areas and that's important this time of year."

Freshman distance swimmer Manuel Belzer had a highly successful meet — he posted a college-best time of 4:25.64 in the 500 free, which was good enough for second-place.

The highlight of his weekend came Sunday during the 1,650 freestyle when he pulled away from the competition and finished the race with a time of 15:32.48. This time was good enough for a new pool and meet record as well as an NCAA "B" qualifying time.

"That was really the first time he's ever swam that in short course yards versus long course," assistant coach Nate Mundt said. "For his first time ever, that was an excellent swim, and it was great to see him go out fast and hold that throughout the race."

What makes Belzer's finish more impressive is that when he swam in Germany, he swam on a long-course pool, which is normally 50 meters. The short course in the recreation facility is less than half the length of the long course, and thus Belzer must adjust his rhythm and compensate for more turning.

Another swimmer with a highly successful weekend was junior Paul Gordon, who finished his day with first-place finishes in the 100 fly and 200 free. He finished with a college-best time of 48.19 in the 100 fly and set a pool and meet record in the 200 free after posting a time of 1:36.68.

Gordon also teamed up with freshman Dustin Rhoads, Phelan, and Hagan for the Hawkeyes' 200 medley relay squad, which took first place in the event with a time of 1:29.78.

"This is my third midseason invitational, and this year, I've been a lot faster," Gordon said. "I was a little bit not necessarily surprised but excited to see how fast I was going."

The Hawkeye Invitational turned out to be a worthy test for the men's team, and it was able to prepare rigorously for a month with excellent results.

"[The month off] gave us time to focus on training and correcting some of the mistakes we had week after week in dual meets," Gordon said. "Now that we're getting more of [NCAA "B" qualifying times], that's exactly where we need to be, looking at the rest of the country, if we want to make it to NCAAs."

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