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Experience aids younger swimmers

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | FEBRUARY 13, 2014 5:00 AM

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Even though over half of the Iowa men’s swimming and diving team is composed of underclassmen, the young swimmers have never felt more prepared to take on the Big Ten championships than this season.

A young and relatively inexperienced corps of freshmen and sophomores has had the advantage of learning from an elite group of upperclassmen who have led by example.

Combine this leadership with arguably the toughest dual-meet schedule in the Big Ten, and the Hawkeyes are entering championship season prepared.

“There won’t be any surprises this year,” head coach Marc Long said. “They’ve already seen a lot of the competition they’ll see here in the next few weeks and then some, so I think they’ll be more than well-prepared for it.”

Starting off opening up the season on the road against defending national champion Michigan, the Black and Gold swam a relentless schedule including six Big Ten opponents as well as a pair of duals against Notre Dame.

“Just knowing going in that we’ve raced just about everyone and swam against that kind of competition should give all of us the confidence we need to step up and know that you can beat anyone next to you,” senior Kyle Noser said.

While Long has done his best to make sure the Hawkeyes are familiar with their competition going in, the Big Ten meet is an event unlike any other in college swimming, one that can certainly be overwhelming for swimmers who have never experienced one before.

That’s where seniors such as Noser come in. Now in his fourth and final year as a Hawkeye, the Denver native remembers what his first time at Big Tens was like, and he has related that experience to better prepare the team’s younger members.

“Big Tens, for an underclassmen, is kind of an eye-opener,” Noser said. “There are a lot of big names there and a lot of people known throughout the country and the world, so walking in and racing those guys can kind of get intimidating.”

True, Iowa’s young guns won’t truly gain an appreciation for the magnitude of the Big Tens until they experience it for themselves in two weeks. However, seniors such as Noser have helped instill a sense of calm and confidence in their younger teammates.

“Our senior class has done a really good job preparing us all year,” sophomore Matthew Boyd said. “Especially because a lot of our team is freshmen and sophomores, so they really just use all the stuff they’ve gone through in their four years here to better prepare us.”

Having been through it three times already, Noser knows that preparing for championship season is just as much mental as it is physical.

“I would say that a majority [of the preparation] is mental,” he said. “We’ve been training for it all year until we’re now at the point where the last couple weeks has just gotten down to resting and mentally preparing and making sure that mentally your ready to fine-tune those little steps.”


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