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Iowa senior swimmers enter the 'final chapter'

BY TORK MASON | FEBRUARY 15, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Iowa women's swimming team isn't one full of veteran leaders.

But coaches and other swimmers said the squad's three seniors offer plenty of leadership.

The seniors — Daniela Cubelic, Danielle Carty, and Veronica Rydze — will participate in one of their final competitions during the Big Ten swimming and diving meet in the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center this week.

The road to these last chances in the pool started a little unnaturally. The recruiting class of 2008 was small to begin with — it had just four members, not including Rydze, who is in her fifth year — but as time went by, only Cubelic and Carty remained.

Having such a small group of upperclassmen — the junior class has just two members — puts an emphasis on leadership for the 32-member swimming and diving team. That's something the Hawkeye coaches say the seniors have displayed throughout their careers.

"A small group can still have a powerful impact, and they have," head coach Marc Long said.

The seniors have had to mature in order to lead the Black and Gold, both in and out of the water. Cubelic and Carty have been cocaptains since last season, and they have roomed together since their sophomore year. They both reflected on their experiences.

"She's grown a lot," Cubelic said. "We've both matured through the process together; I wouldn't have made it this far without her."

Carty noted the changes from high school to college.

"Coming to college and being on your own your freshman year is definitely a challenge," she said. "You no longer have you parents cooking for you or doing your laundry. You have more appreciation for the people who are around you."

Carty said she's been able to take comfort in the fact that she knows Cubelic always has her back, "no matter what," and that she is always there for her roommate.

Assistant coach Kirk Hampleman said that Cubelic and Carty were "bright-eyed and raw" when they arrived in Iowa City, and they've grown the most has been from a leadership standpoint.

"They've really matured in the way they deal with people and lead them," he said.

Rydze has had the opportunity to compete for her father, and Bob Rydze said he's proud of his daughter's accomplishments and her future outside diving. He said her athletics experience is a big part of what has helped her mature as a person.

"[In diving], you have to overcome your fears," the 37-year coach said. "Not only when you learn new dives but when you're trying to change something like a mechanic in the air … it's something new that's scary, and you've got to overcome those fears."

Bob Rydze said every diver's fear when trying something different in the air is the fear of "getting lost," and overcoming that fear also applies to life.

Veronica Rydze said her experience has been a roller coaster full of ups and downs but noted that diving has given her a sense of responsibility, because it's a purely individual sport — you can only control your own actions, so you're really competing against yourself.

Cubelic agreed.

"When you compete at such a high level, you learn lessons that you can't learn in a classroom," she said.

The senior class has had its share of success — all three have posted times and scores which rank among the best in school history — but Long said that even after nearly four years, it's still too soon to define their legacy.

"The final chapter is yet to be written," he said.


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