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Swimmers eye nationals

BY JORDAN HANSEN | FEBRUARY 20, 2014 5:00 AM

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As the Iowa swimmers and divers began competition today in the Big Ten championships, there was more than a team championship on the line.

This meet also represents the last time any of the swimmers or divers will be able to post NCAA qualifying times to compete in the national meet.

No women on the Iowa swimming team got to the championships last year, a trend that could very well change this year.

“Not having any last year in [the NCAAs] was a downfall for us,” senior Lindsay Seemann said. “We’re not going to have everyone there, but we want to get at least some there.”

Even some of the younger swimmers know the pressure and can feel how this year is different from last year.

“I think the excitement and our energy is completely different from last year, and I think there are going to be some really outbreak performances,” sophomore Olivia Kabacinski said. “We have a few relays that I’m sure if we’re all on our bests we could get cuts.”

Last year, the Hawkeyes did not perform well at the Big Tens, finishing 10th, far out of contention. They shouldn’t expect much of a dip in competition this year — six Big Ten teams are ranked in the top 25. Iowa does not have a dual meet win against a top team, despite its 9-5 dual record.

“We’re expecting an absolute world-class meet again this year, and we want to be in the mix,” head coach Marc Long said. “Not only in the top 16 but the top-eight positions, that’s where the big points are.”

The importance of this meet in not lost on anyone, especially the coaching staff.

“This is definitely one of the peak meets that we work toward for the end of the season,” Long said. “They’re excited.”

The Big Ten meet has been a goal all season for the Hawkeyes. It has been stressed since the beginning of the season. However, the Hawkeyes have not done well in championship-style events this season, a trend that needs to change this week.

“It’s a big meet, and we’ve been looking forward to it all season,” Seemann said. “We’re just going to go in there and see what happens, but I know that good things will happen, and we’re going to walk out all smiles regardless.”

With the notable exception of Wednesday, every day of the four-day event is set up in a championship format with the preliminary rounds in the morning and the finals at night. Getting swimmers in these final rounds has been a main focus by Long and his coaching staff.

“You want to put yourself in a scoring position, the top 16, the finals,” Long said. “Getting into that scoring position is how you move up as a team.”

After Iowa’s finish last season, up would be a good place to go.


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