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Women’s swimming and diving takes ninth at Big Tens

BY MAGGIE CUNNINGHAM | FEBRUARY 21, 2011 7:20 AM

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Despite reaching many personal bests and shattering school records, the Iowa women’s swimming and diving team couldn’t move up from last year’s ninth-place finish at the Big Ten championships.

The Hawkeyes finished ninth again with a team score of 151 points at the 2011 Women’s Swimming and Diving Big Ten Championships in Bloomington, Ind., this past weekend. The competition was hosted by Indiana University at the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center.

The four-day event began Feb. 16 and concluded Feb. 19. The Hoosiers won the Big Ten title in an impressive fashion with a team score of 821 points. Minnesota took second with 578 points.

“Anyone who doesn’t know much about swimming in the Big Ten would think ninth is really bad,” junior Daniela Cubelic said. “But the Big Ten is one of the deepest conferences in the country, so although we have been getting ninth, I think our team has improved since last year.”

The competition started slowly for the Hawkeyes, who totaled just 32 points after the first session.

The team earned no points for senior Veronica Rydze and Deidre Freeman’s first-place finish in the exhibition 3-meter synchro.

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

“I think we improved as a team with each session coming back,” Cubelic said. “And by the end of the meet, I think we were happy with how it ended up compared with how it started.”

The divers and relay teams picked up most of Iowa’s points.

On the second day Iowa’s 200-freestyle relay, made up of seniors Caitie Polz and Katarina Tour, Cubelic, and freshman Elise Borja, took eighth and picked up 22 points for the team.

The 400-medley relay team — Tour, Cubelic, and freshmen Aiste Dobrovolskaie and Emily Hovren — took eighth and set a school record at 3:41.87.

Hovren, Cubelic, Tour, and Polz then teamed up for the 400-freestyle relay. The quartet placed ninth posting a time of 3:22.73. The finish was third on Iowa’s all-time top performers list.

“The relays are extremely important for a team like ours, which doesn’t have that many individual scoring opportunities,” Tour said. “I think we did a good job and were stable in our performances.”

Iowa’s overall leading scorer was senior Deidre Freeman. She took first in the 3-meter synchronized dive, second in the individual 3 meter, and third in the individual 1 meter. She set school records in both the 1 meter with a score of 338.55 and 3 meter at 407.40.

The Hawkeyes struggled in many of the individual events when swimmers posted impressive times but did not meet the expectations in where they placed.

Neither Tour nor freshman Haley Gordon qualified for the final round of the 200 individual medley. Both swimmers were seeded in the top 16 entering Big Tens.

Although the Hawkeyes didn’t finish exactly where they hoped, the team posted some strong times and impressive scores that will help prepare them for the future.

“We all have confidence in ourselves,” Cubelic said. “And we know that we are better than ninth place. The ninth-place finish this year is just motivation for next year.

“We have the talent for our team to do it; we just have to follow through.”


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