Big Ten Championships: Hawkeyes improve to fourth overall after second night

BY BEN ROSS | FEBRUARY 24, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Iowa men's swimming team crawled out of eighth place in the Big Ten meet on Thursday in the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center by recording strong finishes in the 500 and 50 freestyle and 400 medley.

Iowa had a score of 48 points coming into the day, putting the Hawkeyes just two places from the bottom. That changed after sophomore Manuel Belzer provided a surge with a sixth-place finish in the finals of the 500 free. Belzer notched a time of 4:21.79 minutes; Michigan's Ryan Feeley placed first in 4:15.12 minutes.

Iowa's Tyler Lentz and Kyle Noser then earned a few more points for the squad, with 11th- and 15th-place finishes in the 200 medley.

The Black and Gold's biggest burst was in the 50 freestyle. Iowa had three swimmers in the eight-man final, senior All-Americans Duncan Partridge, Ryan Phelan, and Paul Gordon. The trio placed fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively, and earned the Hawkeyes 42 points in the event.


Partridge had expressed some unhappiness with the results from the first day of the championships, but his sentiments changed after swimming in the 50 free.

"I was really happy with my performance — I shaved 0.3 seconds off my personal best time," Partridge said. "Today was a day where we had to get a lot of swimmers in the finals, and that's what we did this morning."

Partridge's finish in 19.68 seconds puts him third all-time in the 50 free at Iowa.

Phelan also posted a personal-best time of 19.73 seconds, the fourth-best mark in school history. The senior captain said he was happy with the improvement the squad made, and he relished the opportunity to score points for the home squad.

"I'm happy we had three Hawks in the finals; I was proud to be a part of that," the Cedar Rapids native said. "[Scoring points] is what I came here to do — to help out and score points any way possible. I have the 100 freestyle coming up Saturday, and I look to do my best in that."

Thursday's round of the championships ended with the 400 medley relay. The Hawkeye quartet of Grant Betulius, Andrew Marciniak, Byron Butler, and Partridge placed fourth in 3:11.87 minutes, earning 30 points for the Black and Gold. Michigan's relay squad took first, notching a pool-record 3:07.32-minute finish.

Iowa climbed up to fourth place at the end of Thursday with a total score of 152 points. Michigan is in first with 253, followed by Ohio State with 218, and Indiana with 189.

Head men's swimming coach Marc Long said he was content with his squad's performance at the second day of the meet, but, he said, he would prefer to see more of his athletes in event finals.

"To get three people in the finals [of the 50 free] is outstanding," he said. "We're always greedy, though. We would like to have everybody swimming there. It's still a tremendous start, but there's still a lot of swimming and diving to go here."

Long gave a simple answer when asked how he sees his squad scoring points in the next few days.

"We'll see," he said softly. "I won't know until tomorrow."

Follow DI men's swimming reporter Ben Ross on Twitter.

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