Men’s swim team set for NCAA competition

BY BEN WOLFSON | MARCH 24, 2011 7:20 AM

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Four members of the Iowa swimming team didn’t spend last week on sunny coastal beaches like many other University of Iowa students.

Juniors Duncan Partridge, Ryan Phelan, and Paul Gordon, along with sophomore Jordan Huff, stayed in Iowa City to practice for the biggest meet of their careers — the NCAA championships.
Competition will begin today at the University Aquatic Center in Minneapolis and conclude Saturday.

“It’s really a repeat of our fine-tuning we did before Big Tens,” head coach Marc Long said. “The advantage is we recently had a real intense meet with Big Ten championships.

“We’re just excited; we’ve been up to that pool a lot and faced a lot of the competition.”

This marks the first time since 1995 a Hawkeye relay squad has qualified for the NCAA meet.

The Hawkeyes will swim in the 200 free and 400 free, and they are waiting to hear from the NCAA whether they will be allowed to swim in the 200 medley and 400 medley, among other events.

The four teammates will swim individaully as well.

Partridge will swim in the 100 free. Both he and Phalen will swim in the 50 free. Gordon will take part in the 100 and 200 free. He was invited in the 200 free and will be able to swim in the 100 free after making a “B” level NCAA qualifying time during Big Ten championships.

Huff also had a NCAA “B” time in the 200 free and will participate in that race.

After facing heartbreak last year, the team made a goal of making NCAAs this year.

“I only qualified in the 200-free, but I still have the opportunity to score if I swim fast enough,” Huff said. “It makes everyone realize it is possible to qualify for [NCAAs]. Last year, we were the No. 16 team, and they only took 15 teams … [After that happened last year] we all thought, Is it ever going to work out for us?”

The swimmers realized the importance of getting a chance to compete in the NCAA meet, where, Long said, it is “literally the fastest meet in the world” because of the high number of international students who participate.

The squad left for Minneapolis on Tuesday. The long drought since Iowa’s last NCAA-qualifying relay didn’t seem to faze the swimmers.

“It’s not so much that it’s been that long, I’m just happy that this group of guys has made it,” Partridge said. “Right now, this is what we need … we love a challenge, and [the NCAA championships] are the biggest challenge.”

“I think swimming in the Big Ten has prepared us; it’s just that extra step, we’ve made it to the national level.”

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