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Swimming to host annual Hawkeye Invitational

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | DECEMBER 06, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa men’s swimming and diving team will return to action for the first time in almost a month this weekend when they host their annual Hawkeye invitational at the Campus Wellness and Recreation Center in Iowa City today, Saturday, and Sunday.

The meet will use a championship format, and will feature several nonconference teams including Notre Dame, Milwaukee, and the Denver.

“The team is excited, no doubt,” head coach Marc Long said.  “It’s a little bit smaller of a meet for the men, but we know that these teams coming in hear to swim fast, and they’re going to give it everything, so we know we have to come in here and do our best if we want to win.”

You have to go back to Nov. 11 to see the last time the Hawkeyes swam in a competition, and though they’ve gone almost a month without competition, the Black and Gold have taken full advantage of their time off, using every day in the pool as an opportunity to increase their endurance and prepare themselves for the tough competition they will face this weekend. 

“It’s really what we’ve been striving to do all of this month,” Long said.  “Preparing for this competition is what it’s all been about.  We let them go home for Thanksgiving and see their families for a few days, but then, it was right back in the pool and get back to work.”

Despite their 1-4 record, the Hawkeyes sit No. 23 in the county, according to the College Swimming Coaches Association of America.  Swimming in the Big Ten, they are used to facing tough opponents in every race, and this weekend is no exception.

Notre Dame is coming off wins against Michigan State and Wisconsin, while Denver was recently ranked No. 3 overall in the CollegeSwimming.com Mid-Major ranking.

Senior Gianni Sesto knows that the Hawks need to be ready to compete from the start if they want to earn a few wins this weekend.

“We definitely got Top-25 teams coming in here this weekend, no doubt,” he said. “Denver has guys that make NCAAs every year, and Notre Dame has another kid that got top three in NCAAs, too. So the level of competition will certainly be high.”

Freshman standout Nick Zito has had a strong season so far, and though he may not be as experienced as some of his older teammates, he recognizes the challenges that the Hawks face this weekend.   

Still, he is eager to meet the challenge head on.

“I’ve really been looking forward to this meet all season. We all have, really.  Because of the format, it’s kind of a rest meet, so there is some time in between races to recover, which I think will help us,” he said. 

“It’s good competition.  It kind of gives us a little variety and gives us a look at what we could be facing at the end of the year.”

Tough opponents or not, the Hawkeyes have had this weekend circled on their calendars all year.

“It’s something we’ve been looking forward to since August,” Sesto said.   “We finally have a chance to pull everything together, so it should be fun.”


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