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Swimmers ready for Big Tens

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | FEBRUARY 27, 2014 5:00 AM

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For the last three weeks, the Iowa men’s swimming and diving team has played the waiting game.

Out of action since their home win against Western Illinois on Feb. 7, the Hawkeyes have had almost three weeks to focus solely on preparing themselves for the upcoming championship season.

Thankfully for them, the wait is over. The Hawkeyes completed their first day of competition with 44 points while sitting in 7th place.

“It’s certainly the most prepared this team has been for any meet this year,” head coach Marc Long said. “They’re ready to swim fast, and they’re hungry to win.”

The Hawks had a somewhat disappointing showing at the Big Ten championships last year, placing seventh. However, senior Kyle Noser feels the team is more prepared than ever, and the Hawkeyes have learned from their mistakes all year long.

“I think we’re definitely more prepared than ever before,” he said. “We’ve raced every team in the Big Ten besides Penn State this year at least once, so there shouldn’t be any real shocks for us.”

Iowa will look to use this familiarity to its advantage.

“We know exactly how they’re going to race,” senior Manuel Belzer said. “We know who they’re going to put on relays and who will be in what events, so that will be a big advantage for us.”

While the Black and Gold swam one of the toughest dual-meet schedules in the country this year, they have been out of action since their Senior Night almost three weeks ago.

A three-week waiting period between competitions would drive most athletes crazy; however, Noser and the Hawks say they are grateful for the extra prep time.

They have taken advantage of every moment in practice, trying to match their intensity level to that of a championship race.

“Things have gotten pretty heated in practice,” Noser said. “Just from resting you get that extra energy, so people get pretty anxious and pretty riled up at practice. We’re all anxious, though. It’s been since the senior meet that we’ve swam, so we’re all ready to get out there.”

Belzer knows that, despite the lag time in between meets, he and his team feel more prepared than ever before.

“From a racing standpoint, I’d say we’re definitely more prepared and focused,” he said. “But is should be fun. Even though we’ve lost a lot of dual meets this season, we really have nothing to lose.”

Preparation is key for the Hawkeyes, and they’ll need all they can get. 

Besides their victory over Michigan State back on Oct. 18, the Hawks lost every other Big Ten dual meet this season, including a heartbreaker against Northwestern that came down to the last race of the night.

Still, Belzer and the team feel no added pressure going into the championships this weekend.

“I think because we lost, we can go in there without any pressure on us,” he said.  Like I said before, we have nothing to lose.”


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