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Women's swimming prepares for 'dogfight'

BY TORK MASON | NOVEMBER 18, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa women's swimming and diving team will play host to Purdue tonight and will try to build on what it called a "solid" performance against Minnesota.

The Hawkeyes fell to the Golden Gophers on Nov. 4 by a score of 205-95; the Boilermakers come into the meet ranked No. 22 in the country following their 171-122 victory over Northwestern on Nov. 5.

Iowa assistant coach Kirk Hampleman called Purdue a "well-rounded" team that doesn't have any glaring weaknesses.

"They've had some great sprint and distance freestylers the past couple of years," he said. "They're very well-coached, and they'll be ready."

The Boilermakers are anchored by a quartet of athletes who earned honorable mention All-America honors last season.

Sophomore Emily Fogle and junior Lauren Gustafson earned that distinction as part of Purdue's 800-freestyle relay at last year's NCAA meet, and Gustafson was also an honorable mention All-American in the 400-freestyle relay. Junior Caitlin Hamilton finished 11th in the 1,650 freestyle at the NCAAs, and she took second place in the event at last year's Big Ten championships.

Junior Casey Matthews redshirted because of injury in 2010-11, but the diver placed fifth at the 2010 NCAAs in the 3 meter and ninth in the 1 meter.

The Hawkeyes say they're counting on freshman Becky Stoughton to handle Hamilton, but they also need to improve in other events.

"Purdue is really good in the sprints this year, so that's definitely going to be an area where we have to step up," senior captain Daniela Cubelic said. "We're planning on winning the distance races with Becky, and I think the 100 backstroke is going to be a great race for us."

Cubelic said she and her teammates will take careful aim at the Boilermakers in the 200- and 400-medley relays.

"We definitely want to beat their [200-] medley relay," she said. "It was one of our strongest races [against Minnesota], so we want to build on our time and improve on that. We just want to put together four fast splits at the same time, hope for a win, and see what happens."

Head coach Marc Long said that while the score didn't go the Hawks' way against Minnesota, his team saw the performance as a good sign.

"We looked at it as a positive," he said. "We're so young — we're just starting to get out there and compete — so we took the wins when we could, and that will be similar to this week."

The divers said they're hitting the portion of the schedule where things should start coming together. Diving coach Bob Rydze said he felt going against Purdue's strong program should give him a good look at where his team is.

Cubelic said the key for the team is to not let the score of the Minnesota dual discourage them, because she and her teammates will need to be focused tonight.

"Everyone, as a team, is going to have to step up," she said. "It's going to be a dogfight."


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