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Iowa women swimmers set for first challenge

BY TORK MASON | NOVEMBER 04, 2011 7:20 AM

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Members of the Iowa women's swimming said they expect a much closer dual meet than they've experienced this season when they face Minnesota tonight.

Iowa (2-0, 2-0 Big Ten) is coming off of a dominant 184.5-93.5 victory over Michigan State on Oct. 29. The Hawkeyes haven't had a strong challenge yet, winning both of their duals by at least 91 points.

But that will change tonight when team hosts the Golden Gophers in the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center. Minnesota is perennially one of the top programs in the Big Ten, and it finished No. 14 at last year's NCAA championships.

The Gophers' last meet ended with a 177-121 victory over Wisconsin on Oct. 28, and they are currently undefeated, 4-0 (2-0).

"Minnesota is a really strong team; it has a lot of depth, so it's always really good competition to go against," senior captain Danielle Carty said.

"Depth" may only begin to describe what the Gophers boast. They return eight swimmers who earned at least honorable mention All-America honors last season; that number includes Ashley Steenvoorden and Haley Spencer, who are six- and four-time All-Americans, respectively.

Steenvoorden specializes in the 500 freestyle, an event in which she placed fourth at last year's NCAA meet. She'll likely go head-to-head with Iowa's record-setting freshman Becky Stoughton in what could be one of the highlight events of the evening.

The Hawkeyes say they're placing emphasis on the relays, an area in which Minnesota consistently performs well — especially at the Big Ten championships, Carty said.

"We really want to have a good showing in our relays, especially starting off the meet with our 200 medley relay," the senior said. "We've really focused on that and worked on that during practices."

Head coach Marc Long said finding the events in which his team can stack up with the Gophers will be a challenge.

Sophomore captain Haley Gordon said the Hawkeyes won't change the way they approach the competition, despite Minnesota's history as a strong program.

"We're going to be aggressive from the start, like always," she said. "We know that no matter what happens, we just need to go into our own races with a clear head and swim our own races."
Carty agreed.

"I wouldn't say [facing Minnesota] changes our approach. We always try to go in and win races, so we're still trying to do that; it's just going to be very close," she said. "We might be seen as an underdog, but we definitely want to win races."

Long said the team looks forward to the challenge, and Gordon agreed.

"We're excited to race them and see how we stack up with them this year," she said. "We just have to use our strengths and show them what we have."


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