Hawkeye women set to swim to Big Ten title


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After months of preparation, the Iowa women’s swimming and diving teams will finally compete at the Big Ten championships. The meet begins today at 11 a.m. at the University Aquatic Center on the campus of the University of Minnesota.

After posting a 7-2 record in dual meets this season, junior Karolina Wartalowicz said, the Hawkeyes are ready to show that all of their hard work has paid off.

“We’re really excited, and everyone is really confident,” Wartalowicz said.  “Just going through all the hard work this year makes everyone pumped for the meet.” 

Hawkeye head coach Marc Long is confident his team will be able to stay focused throughout the four-day event, which includes both morning and evening sessions.

“I think so, in swimming you’re kind of used to longer meets,” Long said.  “So they are used to that, and it just gets more exciting day in and day out.”

The Hawkeyes’ team goal is to move up in the Big Ten standings — the finished ninth in each of the last five years. This will prove to be a difficult challenge with seven teams in the league ranked among the nation’s top 25.

The highest ranked team in the field is Indiana at 13th, but Michigan and Minnesota aren’t far behind — both the Wolverines and Golden Gophers are tied for 16th.

Wisconsin is the last team ranked in the top 20 at 19th, and Ohio State, Penn State, and Purdue round of the list of Big Ten teams at Nos. 21, 24, and 25, respectively.

Those numbers don’t mean much to freshman Olivia Kabacinski, whose contributions have helped Iowa to a winning record this year. That mindset will, the Hawks hope, translate to this week’s meet.
Kabacinski is looking forward to her first Big Ten meet.

“I really want to have some personal best times; being a freshman, I don’t really know how I’m going to place yet,” she said. “So I’m just looking to have good times and see where those end up. That will be good enough for me.”

Although Kabacinski is definitely confident in her team and in herself, she did admit she is a little anxious to prove how hard she has worked this season.

“I’m definitely excited but also a little bit nervous,” Kabacinski said. “I really want to race well for my team and prove to everyone that I’ve worked really hard this season.”

That hard work has been put to the test in the last two weeks for every swimmer on the roster. Iowa’s last meet came on Feb. 8 against Western Illinois, meaning the women have had almost two weeks to prepare for their ultimate goal.

“It’s been great; you know it’s a fun time of year as you are preparing and fine-tuning,” Long said. “We are talking about exciting things, so it’s always a fun time of the season.”

Long noted that the women have practiced well this week and they are both mentally and physically prepared for the task at hand. The coaching staff has been telling them all season long that the main goal is to perform well on the biggest stage, at the Big Ten meet.

“We have been telling them that we are getting them ready to have their best performance,” Long said. “There are a ton of different things to work on, and we are just giving them the opportunity to go out and perform.”

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