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Hawkeye women's swimming turning things down a notch

BY TORK MASON | FEBRUARY 02, 2012 7:20 AM

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The Iowa women's swimming and diving team enters its last two dual meets — at Northern Iowa tonight and back home for Senior Night against Western Illinois on Friday — with a slightly different approach from how it typically approaches competition.

The Hawkeyes are going to have a little fun.

Both meets feature shortened event lineups, because all teams involved are preparing for championships. Today's meet in Cedar Falls won't feature as many events as a normal dual, and Friday's bout with Western Illinois is what Daniela Cubelic called a "sprint meet" — the teams will swim the 200 and 500 freestyles, but all other individual events will be just 50 yards.

"[These two meets] are a little more for fun," Cubelic said. "[Most swimmers] don't get the chance to race 50s ever; it's always 100s and 200s. This just gives us a chance to race and clear our minds [before the Big Ten championships] and focus on our speed."

Assistant coach Kirk Hampleman said the meet formats and back-to-back scheduling is something that should help to prepare the Hawkeyes for what they can expect at the Big Ten championships and also give the relay teams some extra work.

"We'll have a lot of extra relays set up [on Friday], so everybody's getting in more relay starts and fine-tuning that," he said. "They'll also get to do a lot of different types of races in a very short period of time, which is just like what they'll do at Big Tens."

Danielle Carty said the final two meets give the team one last chance to "clean things up" before championships, including their starts, turns, and relay takeovers — and she said the environment won't be as "high-pressure."

"We're just looking at our championship meet coming up," she said. "This is our last time to get off the blocks, to fix anything. It's going to be fun, but we do still want to go out and win."

"The truth is, all the teams will be using this as preparation," head coach Marc Long said.

The diving team will only send redshirt freshman Amanda Kocovsky to Cedar Falls, diving coach Bob Rydze said. He said he wants to use today for squeezing in another training session before the group competes in Friday's meet, and he said he's "cautiously optimistic" about his athletes' chances.

"This has been the best week of practice for everybody — both the men and the women — all season," Rydze said. "Veronica [Rydze, his daughter and an All-American] is almost at the top of her game, [redshirt freshman] Abby Grilli is improving leaps and bounds — she's got a great future, and the same goes for [redshirt freshman] Joelle Christy. And Lauren Kelba's getting better. Her power is really starting to come around, and that's her strength.

Friday's meet also marks the final regular-season home competition for seniors Cubelic, Carty, and Veronica Rydze. Carty said it's an exciting and sad experience at the same time.

"[Long] always talks about how we want to keep moving forward, and I definitely feel like I was a part of that," she said. "I'm sad to leave, but I'm excited to see what the women have to do in the future."

Follow DI women's swimming reporter Tork Mason on Twitter.


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