Women’s swimming prepares for No. 6 Minnesota


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The Iowa women’s swimming and diving team started its season with impressive performances against Michigan State —The Hawkeyes won 12 of 13 events and broke a Spartan pool record that had stood for 18 years.

The Black and Gold will travel to No. 6 Minnesota this weekend, and the swimmers know that keeping the momentum will be difficult.

“We saw some good racing [against Michigan State], and we haven’t had a lot of meets this semester,” head coach Marc Long said. “It’s an opportunity to race, and [Minnesota] is defending Big Ten champions. It’s nice to be able to race such great competition.”

Minnesota is a much more stout team than the Spartans. The defending Big Ten champions have swept the Big Ten weekly swimming awards for three-consecutive weeks, and the Gophers will try to continue their three-meet winning streak.

Freshman swimmer Olivia Kabacinski and sophomore Becky Stoughton were two swimmers who helped account for the Hawkeyes season-opening win, and they will be valuable assets this weekend.

Kabacinski set a McCaffree Pool record in the 50-meter freestyle with a time of 23.23 (previously 23.29).

“It was a very cool first Big Ten experience,” the La Porte, Ind., native said. “I wasn’t expecting to swim as fast as I am already. I hear we have a big rivalry with Minnesota, so I’m excited to swim against them. And they have some of the top girls in the Big Ten.”

The hard work for Kabacinski didn’t just begin with wins at Michigan State — it began as soon as she graduated from high school last spring.

“I just tried to do double [practices] all summer,” Kabacinski said. “Also, getting in a lot of yardage so I didn’t come to [Iowa] behind all the upperclassmen. That’s helped so far.”

Kabacinski had instant success in her first meet, and her teammates definitely noticed.

“We picked up a bunch of good freshmen, and being able to watch them and see what they have to bring to the table was awesome,” said Stoughton, last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year. “We’ve also made a lot of improvements from last year.”

Stoughton claimed a victory in the 1,000 against the Spartans, and she wants put her accolade-filled freshman year behind her in hopes of a better year this season.

“It was a good performance for where I’m at right now,” she said. “After last year, I’m just trying to keep my eye on the big prize.”

For swimmers, it all boils down to the end of the year, but for now, Iowa will focus on doing well against the Gophers.

Although Kabacinski and Stoughton swam well against the Spartans, they had help claiming the team title. Heather Arseth, who won three events against Michigan State, will have a homecoming of sorts when she returns to her home state of Minnesota.

“I have a lot of friends and family coming to cheer me on,” the Plymouth, Minn., native said. “It’ll be different, because for me, because their pool is home. Hopefully, it means I’m adjusted to the pool, and I can perform well.”

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