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Two Hawkeyes are named champions at the Big Tens

BY MAGGIE CUNNINGHAM | FEBRUARY 17, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa women’s swimming and diving team could be happier with the conclusion of day one at the Big Ten championships, despite seeing two Hawkeyes named Big Ten champions.

The 2011 Big Ten Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships began on Wednesday in Bloomington, Ind., at Indiana University’s Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center; competition will continue through Saturday evening.

With a team score of just 32 points after day one, the Hawkeyes have nothing to show for seniors Deidre Freeman and Veronica Rydze’s first-place finish in the 3-meter synchronized diving.

“I’m a little disappointed that it doesn’t count, but it feels great to be the best at Big Tens,” Freeman said. “I’m really glad we represented Iowa on the top of the podium [last night].”

On Wednesday, the 3-meter synchro dive appeared at the Big Ten meet for the first time ever. It was considered an exhibition event, and the event was not factored into the overall team score.

“I am incredibly happy,” Rydze said. “We dove really well, and it was our highest score yet.”

The Freeman-Rydze duo won the event easily with a score of 266.0. The second-place team, Minnesota, recorded score of 250.0

A few weeks ago, Freeman and Rydze took fourth in the 3-meter synchro at the USA Diving 2011 Winter Nationals.

“It is something [Freeman and Rydze] will always remember,” diving coach Bob Rydze said. “Because it is history.”

The event was included in the Big Ten championships as a trial run, and the response from both the spectator and coaches was great.

“The crowd loved it,” Bob Rydze said. “All of the swimmers even came and watched the whole event.”

The sport is becoming increasingly more popular, and Bob Rydze said synchronized diving is the second-most-watched event at the Summer Olympics.

“It was nice to see that synchro was a crowd-pleaser,” Freeman said. “And I hope that the event will remain in the collegiate competition in subsequent years.”

There are no definite plans in place to make synchro an official event, but Bob Rydze believes it will happen in a few years.

The win is a confidence booster for Freeman and Veronica Rydze, who also compete in the 1- and 3-meter individual events.

The 200-medley relay and the 800-freestyle relay were the only other events held at last night’s section of the competition, and the swimming portion of Iowa’s team was less successful.

“We definitely hope to do better,” junior Daniela Cubelic said. “But it’s a challenge getting adjusted to the atmosphere and everything the first night.”

Iowa’s medley relay took ninth when seniors Katarina Tour and Caitie Polz, Cubelic, and freshman Karolina Wartalowicz posted a time of 1:43.0.

Cubelic and freshmen Emily Hovren, Emily Christiansen, and Aiste Dobrovolskaite made up the Hawkeyes 800-freestyle relay team, which finished 10th with a time of 7:29.24.

“I think people stepped up, but it just didn’t happen [last] night,” Cubelic said. “Tomorrow, we will be able to get back and beat those teams I know we are capable of beating.”


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