Friendly scrimmage fuels Hawkeye's competitive nature


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While the Iowa men’s swimming and diving team’s recent intrasquad scrimmage was technically only a training exercise, the team treated it with all the intensity and heart of a real meet.

“I loved their competition level,” head coach Marc Long said. “For a lot of the newcomers, it was great experience, but nevertheless, we still have some work to do.”

It was clear from the get-go that the Black and Gold were psyched up to compete. The team members, many of whom donned black and gold face paint for the occasion, was energized from the initial player introductions to the final team chants.

The scrimmage — a yearly tradition for the Hawkeyes — saw the squad split up into separate “teams” picked by the seniors in a fantasy draft prior to the meet. With bragging rights on the line, this strategy and friendly competition drove the Hawkeyes to compete so hard on.

“I think what actually made drafting harder this year than compared with years past is that we have so much depth,” senior Gianni Sesto said.  “It’s something that the team has been really playing around with a lot this season, so it made being in the draft room all the more interesting.”

While picking a roster from more than 60 of your teammates may sound daunting, Sesto said, it’s a good problem to have.

“This team is obviously very competitive, so sitting in the draft room thinking ‘if we get this person, they could beat this person, or if they get player X, we need to get player Y, so it was kind of a pick and choose,” Sesto said.  

Senior Dustin Rhoads channeled all of the emotion and energy of his final scrimmage as a Hawkeye into a stellar performance, scoring wins in the 100 back and pacing the 200-medly relay team that took first place.

He was also the runner up in the 200-free relay.

“I thought it was a great meet,” he said. “ It was a really great way to kick off the home schedule. Tonight, we really just went all out and treated it as if we were taking on another team.”

While Rhoads’ intensity was extreme, it is not unique.

Sophomore Roman Trussov of the Gold team scored two first-place finishes, winning the 100 breast with a time of 54.60, an NCAA “B” cut time, and freshman diver Brandis Heffner stepped up and won the men’s 50 freestyle with a final time of 24.76.

“I swam better today then when they used to make me swim in high school, so I was proud of that,” he said. “I think tonight was a big factor in keeping us confident moving forward.  We just have to keep it moving.”

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