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Iowa women's swimming gets look at championship atmosphere

BY TORK MASON | DECEMBER 02, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa women's swimming and diving team will get its first taste of championship swimming this weekend in the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center.

The Hawkeyes will play host to five swimming teams and two diving squads in what head coach Marc Long called the "peak meet" of the fall season: the Hawkeye Invitational.

Denver, No. 16 Michigan, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Washington State will compete in both swimming and diving. Notre Dame and South Dakota State will compete in diving.

"This is certainly a meet we want to gear up for," Long said. "It's a chance for [the team] to swim some events that maybe they don't typically swim in but are some of their better events. We're all excited."

The number of teams visiting Iowa City will bring a different atmosphere to the pool deck this weekend, senior captain Daniela Cubelic said.

"It's going to be really exciting, because there's going to be a lot more people than there would be at a dual meet," she said. "The atmosphere is going to be pretty crazy. We're going to be riding on a lot of adrenaline, so we're expecting a lot faster times than we would swim at dual meets."

Long said he thinks the NCAA format — with preliminaries in the morning and finals in the evening — will provide a good challenge for his swimmers because it will give them a taste of what the Big Ten and NCAA championships will be like in the spring.

Freshman Becky Stoughton said she has experience with similar formats, but she still isn't sure what this tournament will hold for her.

"I know what to expect, but then again, I don't," the Peoria, Ill., native said. "It's like a bunch of the club meets I used to do before I came to college, so in that respect I know what's going on — but it's also my first college meet [in this format]."

Stoughton said she's ready to take on all opponents and doesn't pay much attention to who happens to be in the water. She has had little trouble disposing of her competition thus far; she has won all of her individual races this season and broken several school records.

Michigan is the headline Big Ten team competing, and Cubelic said the Hawkeyes are prepared to face the Wolverines.

"Michigan is a really strong team — it always has been," she said. "So we're looking to stick with it as best we can."

The meet also offers an opportunity for revenge. Denver won last year's Hawkeye Invitational, topping the Black and Gold, 1,052.5-853, over three days.

"We really want to race [Denver] well," Cubelic said. "They beat us last year, so this year we really want to reclaim that title from them."

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