Iowa women's swimmers return to pool to face Wildcats


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Iowa’s women’s swimming and diving team will return to the pool Saturday, facing off against Northwestern at 11 a.m. in the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center.

Coming off of a dominating performance on Jan. 19 at Illinois — the Hawkeyes won, 196-102, while claiming 13 of 16 events, they will try to win their fifth-straight dual competition and improve to 6-1 on the year.

Although Northwestern (2-4, 1-3 Big Ten) trails Iowa in the standings, head coach Marc Long knows that Northwestern is not going to be an easy opponent, and he is not taking them lightly.

“It’s a great program at Northwestern, and it’s very well-coached. We haven’t beaten them in many years, so it’s a big challenge for our girls,” Long said. “It’s a whole new challenge and whole new set of different swimmers who are strong in different areas, so we are going to have to swim better in different areas if we are going to beat them.”

Iowa dominated Illinois, and it will take another performance similar to that in order to upend Northwestern. Sophomore Becky Stoughton and freshman Olivia Kabacinski led the Hawkeyes to four 1-2-3 finishes, which included victories by Stoughton in the 200 free (1:50.55) and 500 free (4:55.69.) Hawkeye victories also came from Kabacinski in the 50 free (23.91) and in the 200 medley relay (1:46.31) with Kabacinski, sophomore Heather Arseth , and juniors Abbey Tuchscherer and Emily Hovren. 

Kabacinski added runner-up finishes in the 100 free, posting a time of 52.38 seconds, and her same quartet finished second in the 400 free relay with a finish of 3:30.75. With success comes pressure, but Kabacinski insists that being a standout freshman is nothing she can’t handle.

“It’s really exciting, but there is a lot of pressure along with it too because you just want to perform well for your teammates and your coaches,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun, but there’s a ton of pressure at the same time.”

She is able to lean on her fellow underclassmen sensation to help carry some of the load. Everyone who watched Stoughton swim last year and has continued to watch her pile up the accolades this season sees nothing but success day in and day out. However, Stoughton recognizes there is still work to be done.

“Well, honestly, I want to work on my kick coming off of those walls,” she said. “I know my underwater has been struggling lately, so that’s going to help me drop time which definitely needs to happen.”

In theory, Iowa should take care of Northwestern this weekend and look ahead to the Northwestern Invitational and dual meets against Western Illinois and Northern Iowa to cap off the regular season before heading to the Big Ten championships in Minneapolis beginning Feb. 20. With all of that coming up, it’s hard not to get excited, even if you’re the head coach.

“Our sport is year-round, and there is competition all year starting with summer nationals in August,” Long said. “As we prepare for the championship phase of the season, it just gets more and more exciting.”

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