Hawkeye swimmers expect stiff test in Madison

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

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The Iowa women's swimming and diving team is ready to prove itself to the rest of the Big Ten as it enters its first dual meet of the year.

The Hawkeyes will compete in Madison, Wis., tonight against the Badgers in the Black and Gold's only road meet of the fall season.

After falling in last year's dual at the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center by a score of 208-92, the team said it's looking forward to the chance to redeem itself.

"They showed us up [last year]," sophomore captain Haley Gordon said. "We're hoping that this year is better, and we think we have a fairly good chance of winning some relays and individual events."

Achieving that goal will be a challenge. The Badgers return three members of three different relay events — the 200 and 400 medley relays and the 400 freestyle relay. Those teams hold school records and helped propel Wisconsin to an 11th-place finish at last year's NCAA championships.

But senior captain Daniela Cubelic said the Hawkeyes aren't intimidated.

"Wisconsin is very strong, one of the stronger teams in the Big Ten," she said. "But looking at our results from the Black and Gold meet, I think we can contend with them in every single race."

The team will focus on competing with the Badgers' strong relays, she said, and she expects the competition will help the Hawkeyes produce better times in all of their events.

Gordon said knowing this dual counts — as opposed to the intrasquad meet two weeks ago, which was an exhibition event — will help the team's performance.

"We're going to be more aggressive than at the Black and Gold, just because they're not our teammates anymore," she said. "This is the first Big Ten dual, so we know we have to step up when we get there."

Cubelic said the mental approach in this meet is much different from that of the intrasquad meet, because there's more pressure and more of an adrenaline rush when the team competes.

"When you're racing [your teammates], it's much more relaxed because you know who you're racing, and you know how they're going to swim the race," she said. "So you really have to just focus on your race when you're racing a team that you're not so familiar with."

The Hawkeyes will rely on freshmen to perform, most notably Becky Stoughton and Heather Arseth. Gordon said there is a level of uncertainty for the newcomers, she's not especially worried.

"A lot of our teammates are freshmen, so they have no idea what to expect from their first dual meet," Gordon said. "But they're eager to see what Wisconsin has."

Head coach Marc Long said the team keeps the "big picture" in mind, and everything the Hawks do during the season builds up to the championship season in the spring.

The Hawkeyes are excited to go against one of the top programs in the conference, he said.

"Historically, there's been some great dual meets between our programs, and we expect the same here," he said.

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