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Iowa wins in final event

BY IAN MURPHY | DECEMBER 08, 2014 5:00 AM

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Grant Betulius, a senior and the team captain, looked his 400-freestyle relay teammates in the eye and had a simple message.

He told them they weren’t losing the relay, and they were going to win the meet.

“Everyone just looked each other in the eye, and we knew were going to do it,” junior David Ernstsson said.

Facing a 4.5-point deficit going into the final event, the Hawkeyes needed a victory in the relay and a third-place finish for Notre Dame to give Iowa a 918.5-918 victory.

It played out exactly as scripted.

Sophomore Jackson Halsmer, junior Jackson Allen, Ernstsson, along with Betulius, made good on the captain’s directive with a Hawkeye victory in a time of 2:55.44.

In what was easily the most exciting race all night, Betulius delivered another brilliant performance to give the Hawkeyes the victory, providing the fastest 100-freestyle split of the three-day meet with a 42.89.

“It was awesome,” Betulius said. “Everyone swam well.”

Halsmer called the team atmosphere nonstop and one in which teammates were constantly pumping each other up.

“Grant really stepped up,” head coach Marc Long said in the understatement of the year.

Not only did he have an impressive split on the relay, he also had an NCAA A cut in the 100 backstroke with a 45.56, the second-fastest time in the nation so far. The A cut means he will be guaranteed a spot at the NCAA championships at the end of March.

“It was an honor to be on this relay,” Halsmer said. Ernstsson agreed.

As good as the relay was, Long said Iowa would not have been in a position to win without senior Mike Vinyard winning the B final of the men’s 200 butterfly.

The importance of Vinyard’s win from the outside lane cannot be understated. It kept the Hawkeyes within striking distance, in points, of the Irish, who scored big points in the 200 distances of the non-freestyle events and took the 4.5 point lead after the 200 butterfly.

Long said he told Vinyard and freshman Colter Allen they needed to win the heat.

“After a three-day meet, it was just a lot of fun,” Long said.

Freshman Jerzy Twarowski followed up Vinyard’s win with a school record in the A final of the 200 butterfly in a gutsy swim to keep the Hawkeyes competitive as well.

“It pumped me up, I know for sure,” Allen said. “All night across the board,  people stepped up.”

Allen’s sentiment was echoed by his teammates, who credited the rest of the team’s strong swimming as feeding their energy.

As sweet as the victory was, the Hawkeyes will get back to business on Tuesday, focusing on the end of season meets.

“Now, we’re just looking forward to Big Tens,” Ernstsson said.

Follow @IanFromIowa on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa men’s swimming and diving team.


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