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Underclassmen lead Hawkeye swimmers into Minneapolis

BY NICK DELAQUILA | FEBRUARY 19, 2013 5:00 AM

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Twenty-seven University of Iowa female swimmers will take off for the Big Ten championships in Minneapolis today and of those 27, only two will be going for the final time.

This season, head coach Marc Long’s roster consists of only 10 upperclassmen, eight of which are in their junior campaigns. Although the roster may appear to be a little young, Long doesn’t have any change in expectations.

“Those two seniors [April Allen and Lauren Eytalis] have provided great leadership, and their experiences will definitely help the group as we head into the championship meet,” Long said. “We have a hungry freshman class and other people who I think can really contribute.”

With leadership comes the aspect of tutoring the underclassmen and helping them through every step of the way. That was something that junior Karolina Wartalowicz says the upperclassmen have tried to make a point of all season long.

“I feel as an upperclassmen, we have given them guidelines and set pretty good examples,” she said. “They fit in really well, and overall, we have a really good team attitude.”

That leadership has taken the squad this far, but with Big Tens beginning today, it is time for the underclassmen to go out on their own and prove that all of their hard work has paid off and show that the lack of experience isn’t going to be a factor.

Freshman Olivia Kabacinski, who set the school record in the 50 free early on in the year, said she has confidence in her fellow freshmen.

“We have had a really strong freshman class, and I think in a way we have helped push the team into having a really good dual meet season and doing well at the Hawkeye Invitational,” she said.

She also reflected on how well her and her teammates have stepped up during the season, and she said her classmates are ready for the strenuous four-day event. 

“I think that my races have definitely shown people that you can go out there and have fun and have good times at the same time,” Kabacinski said. “A lot of people have come out of the woodwork and have really shown their true colors, and that they are here for the team, and they want us all to do well. “

Although the team may be young, there is still plenty of experience in the sophomore and junior classes. The Hawkeyes have a number of swimmers who have experienced the Big Ten meet atmosphere.

That has Long feeling confident his swimmers will get back into the elite group of the Big Ten. After finishing in ninth the past five seasons, the nine-year head coach is ready for his team to take the next step.

“We have people that are coming back and have scored in the past,” Long said. “The Big Ten has seven or eight ranked teams, and we want to start moving up in the standings.”


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