‘Utility’ swimmer helps out team in multiple ways


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Devon Meeks admits he had an adjustment period early in the season when the freshman was still getting used to college-level practices.

“I come from a smaller club [in South Dakota], and if I had an off-day, I was still the best guy. But here if I have an off-day, I’m getting lapped,” Meeks said. “Once I got over the hump, I started swimming better, and the coaches gave me a spot on some of the relays.”

Ever since early December, when the Iowa men’s swimming and diving team hosted the Hawkeye Invitational, Meeks has come into his own and put together a string of strong performances.

“As a freshman in any sport, there’s an adapting period, and he’s doing things in strength training that he’s never done before,” head coach Marc Long said. “It’s a long season, and he’s making a great adapting grade, and now we’re getting to the point of the season where he’s getting an opportunity to step up and race against great competition.”

Meeks’ big opportunity came for him Jan. 22, when Iowa hosted Northwestern in a dual meet. With the Hawkeyes up one point and only the 400-free relay left, Meeks was informed he would lead off for the “A” squad.

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The freshman said he was “ecstatic” to hear the news, but that feeling quickly turned to anxiety when he looked over at the Northwestern relay team and saw them pumping each other up.

“We just told him to approach it like any other race,” relay anchor and junior Duncan Partridge said. “When [Meeks] swims his own race, he can match up against anybody.”

As the relay began, Meeks did just that and swam well enough for sophomore teammate Jordan Huff to get a great jump on the next part of the race.

The Hawkeyes “A” and “B” teams finished first and second, Iowa won the meet, and afterwards, Meeks’ older teammates were impressed with his performance.

“With any freshman, he has to assimilate into the program,” Partridge said. “[Meeks] has definitely made a pretty strong impact out of most of the freshmen.

“Really, with any of his events I’m confident in Devon Meeks that he’d swim very well.”

Meeks is listed on the Iowa depth chart as a backstroke, butterfly, and freestyle swimmer — something of a rarity on the team.

The Iowa coaches have played around with his versatility this season and have used him in different events, including the 200-medley relay, 200-free relay, 400-free relay, 50 free, and the 100 back and 100 fly.

He said he is interested in competing in the 200 free, as well as the 200 back and 200 individual medley.

With championship season just on the horizon, Meeks is confident in his abilities to help the Hawkeyes out as he prepares to swim in sprint freestyle races as well as a backstroke race. He also will try to crack the lineup in the 200-free and the 400-free relays.

“There are not a lot of guys who can do three strokes really well,” Meeks said. “[Ryan] Phelan and Duncan [Partridge] are the top sprinters on the team right now, along with Jordan [Huff] and Paul [Gordon], so it’s nice to have tutors.

"I think my [freshman season] has gone really well, but it’s nice not having to step into that role where the team needs me to win every event."

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