Men's swimmers eager for season-opener

BY BEN ROSS | OCTOBER 20, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa men's swim team will travel to Madison, Wis., today to compete against Wisconsin in its first meet of the season.

The Badgers have already competed this season; they lost to Milwaukee on Oct. 7 at home, 149-145. Iowa came out ahead, 192-102, at the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center the last time the Black and Gold faced Wisconsin.

The Hawkeye swimmers are hopeful about this season, and a few of the swimmers set this season's goal as high as winning the Big Ten. A successful trip to Madison is just one step along the way of winning a title.

Head coach Marc Long said he always looks forward to racing against Madison because of the zeal with which the athletes swim and because of the long history between the two schools.

"There is always a lot of energy and excitement when we go to Madison," Long said. "There is also a rivalry there — I believe the first meet with them was in the 1920s, and since then, I think we have competed against them every year but four [during World War II]. It's a longtime rivalry and will be a tough meet."

Senior swimmer Paul Gordon said he's particularly excited to race against Madison because both because it's the first meet of the season and because he agrees with his coach that the Badgers are a rival.

"Iowa has got a lot of healthy rivalries," the senior all-American said. "My freshman year, we beat them in a big upset. This is a high-priority meet for the season."

Gordon said the team will have to perform well across the board in order to get a win today.

"Wisconsin has a few really good swimmers; we need to show that we can beat them in not only our best events but their best events as well," he said. "We have the depth that can deny them wins."

The Hawkeyes will leave Iowa City today around 11 a.m., will compete at 5 p.m. at the Wisconsin Natatorium, and then get back on a bus and head home. While some may think that running on such a tight schedule may negatively affect the athletes, Long said he scheduled the trip in that fashion on purpose.

"Wisconsin is so close that we [get there, compete, and come back in one day]," he said. "I think it's good to sleep in your bed whenever possible. For bigger meets that are farther away, we will go a day before to get a full day at the facilities and get situated."

Many swimmers like to get better acclimated to the pool in which they will swim before the competition, but Iowa's swimmers won't be able to enjoy such a luxury due to the time-sensitive schedule. All-American Duncan Partridge said he doesn't think that will be a problem for the Hawkeyes, though.

"It's Coach Long's style to go up there, take care of business, and come back," the Lake Forest, Ill., native said. "[Not being used to the pool] is a disadvantage — you can't get used to the markings or the interesting things like that. But I don't think it's too big of a deal or too much of a threat.

"Water is water."

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