Hawkeye swimmers prepare for, reflect on Senior Night

BY BEN ROSS | FEBRUARY 03, 2012 7:20 AM

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This evening will mark the last time a select few swimmers will enter Iowa's pool in their Hawkeye swimming caps to compete in a dual meet.

Tonight is Senior Night for the Iowa men's and women's swimming teams. It's an occasion for a group of individuals to reflect on careers that began in the Field House and ended in the sparkling Campus Recreation & Wellness Center.

Five seniors on Iowa's 30-man roster will leave the team in the spring — three of them All-Americans.

The Black and Gold (6-2, 6-1 Big Ten) have compiled a 40-5 dual-meet record in the four-year stretch seniors Paul Gordon, Sean Swibes, Ryan Phelan, Duncan Partridge, and Brian Tremml have been at Iowa, including a 15-4 run in the Big Ten.

Partridge, an All-American, said the meet against Western Illinois (0-6) will hold special meaning because he won't return next season, and it should be an enjoyable set of races.

"It's one of those things you never really think is going to come — and then, all of a sudden, it's here," he said. "[The meet is] really just a chance to kind of reflect on the past couple of years. The swimming isn't really the main focus. We've been a really tight group for a while now, so this is just one more step."

The seniors will get one last chance to swim in their home pool after this evening; the Big Ten championships will be held at the facility on Feb. 22-25. Iowa will have two weeks of rest before the that begins.

Assistant coach Kirk Hampleman isn't far removed from his own senior meet; the six-year assistant coach graduated from Auburn in 2002.

"It's an amazing period of time," he said. "They'll get to line up on the deck and see their families; they'll be presented one by one … You learn so much as you come around and grow up; it's a pretty powerful feeling. I don't think they think now that it's going to big deal; but once they're standing on deck Friday, it's going to hit them."

Senior Night also symbolizes the departure of leaders and close friends.

"This means saying goodbye to some of my very good friends," junior captain Jordan Huff said. "The seniors now are the sophomores I got know in the dorms my freshman year. This is the culmination of all their hard work — not just for our sport but for our team. When they got here, the team wasn't ranked. They're certainly a main reason why we've been swimming the way we've been swimming."

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