Women's swim team uses depth

BY TORK MASON | OCTOBER 07, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa women's swimming and diving team will lean on its depth to propel the squad into a strong 2011-12 season, and Hawkeye fans will get their first look at the team on Saturday at the Black and Gold intrasquad meet.

After losing former team leaders Katarina Tour and Verity Hicks to graduation in the spring head coach Marc Long added 12 freshmen this year — and they're expected to have a positive effect sooner than later.

"I know we're going to have a great season," senior captain Daniela Cubelic said. "We have 12 freshmen, and most of them are impact swimmers, so they're really going to help on relays and in events that we maybe lacked in last year."

Cubelic also said the team will "definitely surprise some people" if the freshmen are able to step up.

Long said the first-year swimmers should provide a nice blend of youth and experience, even if team chemistry takes a little while to develop.

"It's exciting in a lot of ways, and they're growing by leaps and bounds each week," he said.

Two freshmen in particular stand out to Cubelic — Heather Arseth and Becky Stoughton.

The captain said she's in the same training group as Arseth, and the freshman has been doing an "outstanding job."

Long and Cubelic both said they feel Stoughton, a Peoria, Ill., native, will make a big impact.

"She has been really, really, impressive," Cubelic said. "She's actually been our fastest trainer, by far, out of everyone. I think the class as a whole has a lot of potential, but definitely Heather and Becky stand out the most."

And in the diving well, the Hawkeyes will begin life without Deidre Freeman — a recently graduated All-American and school record-holder in the 1- and 3-meter dives.

The team does return senior All-American Veronica Rydze, the daughter of diving coach Bob Rydze and the diver who partnered with Freeman for synchronized diving last season, but both her father and Long said she won't replace Freeman.

No one will, they said.

"You don't replace a Deidre Freeman — period," the elder Rydze said.

He said it's too early to tell who will take Freeman's spot in the lineup, though he said doesn't think his daughter will compete in synchronized diving this year; she's still diving with Freeman in USA Diving competitions and preparing for Olympic trials.

The Hawkeyes will play host to the Big Ten championships on Feb. 15-18, marking the first time since 1985 that Iowa City has held the meet. Long and Cubelic both said the team is looking forward to the opportunity, though Cubelic said it can be a double-edged sword.

"It can be a lot more relaxed, because it's the pool that we've been training in, it's the pool that we're comfortable with," she said. "And it can also be more exciting, too, because we're going to have a lot more supporters in the stands."

Cubelic and fellow captains Danielle Carty and Haley Gordon will lead the team into the 2011-12 campaign starting at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center.

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