Hawkeye Invitational prepares swimming teams for end of season


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The Iowa men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will host the annual Hawkeye Invitational today through Dec. 2.

The men’s teams coming to Iowa City include No. 1 Michigan, No. 19 Notre Dame, Denver, and Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Iowa is currently ranked No 21.

All of those teams will also swim on the women’s side of the invitational, but Nebraska, Northwestern, and Washington State will join the competition.

The invitational will be the first meet for the Hawkeyes in almost a month, and the swimmers are excited to get back into the pool to compete.

Time off from competing has been beneficial for Iowa. Senior Jordan Huff said it allowed the Hawkeyes to get better by working on turning and stroke techniques in practice, and head coach Marc Long said the team had more time to also concentrate on schoolwork.

But it’s back in the pool now for the Hawkeyes. The invitational will serve as a learning opportunity for coaches and athletes. The meet, which has a champion format, helps familiarize and expose the new and returning swimmers with the Big Ten championships as well as the NCAAs.

“They’re still developing, and we’re not quite sure where everything’s going to go event-wise so this meet is a great learning opportunity for the coaches as well,” Long said. “I have no idea where they’re going to finish, but I know they’re hungry to race.”

Last season, the men’s team fell short of its 2010 first-place finish when it was defeated by the Wolverines.

But a lot has changed for the men’s team since then. This years’ team may have more youthful faces, but the potential to be a very good team is still there.

“We’ve got a lot of depth in places that we didn’t have last year,” junior Kyle Noser said. “The people that are still here are a year older and have more racing under their belt, and I think the newcomers are going to surprise us.”

Long also wants the swimmers to get the feel of facing off against tough competition, and he said it’s important for them to get experience against Michigan and other tough opponents prior to the Big Ten championships.

“They get to see the best,” Long said. “Some of the best the Big Ten has to offer will be here, so I think that helps prepare them very well for facing them later on in the year.”

As for the women, Arizona transfer Lindsay Seemann shares Long’s sentiment that this meet will be an important measuring tool for the team.

“It’s basically a practice meet for Big Tens,” Seemann said. “It is a really good trial run to see where were at mentally. The meet is basically the exact same format as Big Tens, so it’ll be good to see where we stand at this point in the season.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams have battled through two meets this season, and they will have to use that experience to push them through their first championship-style meet.

“We’ve had two really tough Big Ten meets already, in Michigan State and Minnesota,” assistant coach Nate Mundt said. “Having both of those on the road were big tests, with high-level competition. It was good to see those early in the season to prepare us for what we’ll see this weekend.”

The swimmers aren’t fazed by the tough competition  — they welcome it as they look to regain first place in the Hawkeye Invitational. In order for the men’s squad to come out on top, Iowa will have to outswim the Michigan distance swimmers and the freestylers of Notre Dame, which Huff said are the strong points of those teams.

“We’re just going to have to get our hands on the wall first,” Huff said. “With a team like Michigan coming in, not only do they have stellar individuals, but they have very quick relays.”

Noser said the experience of the Hawkeye Invitational will be an eye opener for some of the younger swimmers as they face off against more than one team, and that it’s also good for them to get it under their belt before the Big Tens.

“The first time it’s scary,” he said. “They come in, and you know that their names are known throughout the country, but you’ve just got to realize that the names don’t matter, racing the blue cap or whatever team’s next to you — you’ve just got to race.”

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