Finish at NCAAs leaves men’s swimming hungry for more

BY BEN WOLFSON | MARCH 30, 2011 7:20 AM

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The 2010-11 season for the men’s swim team was a season of firsts.

It was the first season in the new Campus Recreation & Wellness Center. It was also the first time the men’s team has been nationally ranked under head coach Marc Long. Finally, last weekend’s NCAA championships marked the first time in 16 years the Hawkeyes have claimed All-American honors in a relay.

Though the regular season is over, the men’s squad remains highly motivated and is still hard at work prepping for the summer season.

“That was a big goal of ours, not to just make [the NCAA championships], but to score and we did that,” head coach Marc Long said. “It’s left a hunger [on the team].”

The men’s team has improved greatly in the past year. It took a major step by finishing No. 24 in the final men’s Division-I rankings.

That comes after a 7-1 record in dual-meets including a 3-1 record against Big Ten teams. The squad’s only dual-meet loss came in Minneapolis against Minnesota on Nov. 5, 2010.

When juniors Ryan Phelan, Paul Gordon, and Duncan Partridge and sophomore Jordan Huff qualified for the NCAAs, that added an extra month of intense training to their long season.

“I think it’s just great to sit down and take a bit of a break,” Partridge said. “I just hope that my experiences help the team in anyway possible, and I think we can provide more perspective [to the rest of the team].”

During the NCAAs, Gordan said he realized what the team is capable of.

“We went seemingly at the top of one level [of competing] to be at the bottom of another,” Gordon said of the discrepancy in competition between dual-meets and the NCAA meet. “[Next season we want] to make our presence more known at the national level.”

Another benefit of the new rec center is its attractiveness to potential recruits. The team can now train for the long course season.

On the men’s team, a steady core of upperclassmen will return, including the four All-Americans and a mix of talented younger swimmers.

“Recruiting is a big factor this year because of the development of the underclassmen,” Partridge said. “At [Big Tens] there are a lot of sophomores and freshmen scoring. The next step [as a team] is to get them to a level of scoring … our freshmen definitely have that potential.”

As the four swimmers who participated in the NCAAs take a break from practice the rest of the team is required to participate in afternoon swims five days per week and also have the option of voluntary morning workouts.

Long said the pool will be converted into long-course, which is 50 meters. In the Field House previously, the Hawkeyes were unable to train on Olympic lengths, but now they have that ability.

During the summer, the men’s team will use the motivation brought by a successful season in order to excel in amateur events as they prepare to build for the future.

“Now that we’ve [scored at NCAAs], we know we can and what we do better,” Gordon said. “We’ve started a trend at moving up that we can stay in with the right work. At [NCAAs] having seen how good the rest of the competition is just shows us how much we can do.”

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