Iowa men's swimmers prepare for ranked Ohio State, Purdue

BY BEN ROSS | NOVEMBER 18, 2011 7:20 AM

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Coming of a signature win over Minnesota, the Iowa men's swimming team will try to continue its momentum to when it faces Ohio State and Purdue today. The meet will begin at 5 p.m. in the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center.

All three teams are featured in this season's first round of rankings, with No. 10 Iowa (3-0, 3-0 Big Ten) leading the way. Ohio State (5-0, 0-0) is close behind Iowa at No. 11, and Purdue (3-0, 1-0) rounds out the trio of schools with a No. 17 ranking.

The swimmers said they don't pay much attention to the rankings and that the number doesn't mean anything, but sophomore Gianni Sesto said the ranking can psychologically help swimmers in their performance.

"[The ranking] is always in the back of our mind," the Las Vegas native said. "Knowing we're getting recognition, we're taught to go out and race and not worry about that. We're ranked 10th, which is a huge confidence booster. It's a great opportunity for us."

Iowa finished last season ranked No. 15, and it has earned its high ranking so far. The Black and Gold have times that are listed in the top five nationally in four separate events; the 400-freestyle and 200-medley relays have the nation's third-best times of 2:58.17 and 1:28.98, respectively. Seniors Ryan Phelan and Paul Gordon hold the fourth-best times in their best events — Phelan has a 19.90 in the 50 free, and Gordon holds a mark of 44.07 in the 100 free.

Phelan said he doesn't let rankings influence his performance, and he believes the team's momentum left over from the bout against Minnesota is the best fuel the Hawkeyes can use this evening.

"It doesn't affect us very much at all … what it does is give a good indication of where we would like to be at the end of the year," he said. "… The Minnesota win leaves us hungry … it sparked the fire in us as a team. We're hungrier now than ever, and it left us feeling good.

"There's more to do, and we aren't settled with it."

Only one other Big Ten team is ranked higher than Iowa, but the Hawkeyes won't face No. 1 Michigan until the Big Ten championships, in February. The Wolverines don't appear as though they will drop down in the rankings anytime soon — the Maize and Blue defeated No. 2 Texas on Nov. 5.

The Iowa swimmers don't need to dwell on the future, though, sophomore Dustin Rhoads said. The only thing the team is thinking about is the present, he said.

"We don't buy into the rankings," the Ames native said. "We have a lot of goals for the season. Being ranked is pretty cool, and it's nice to be recognized by other coaches. In the end it doesn't mean much.

"I do think it gives our team confidence. We've won a lot of close races; there will be a lot of close races in this [meet]. Hopefully, we can get our hands on the walls before them and come out with a victory."

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