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Iowa sprinters shine at Hawkeye Invite

BY IAN MURPHY | DECEMBER 09, 2014 5:00 AM

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It only took sophomore Jackson Halsmer 19.91 seconds to swim his 50 freestyle in the Hawkeye Invitational finals on Dec. 5 in the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center.

He won the event handily with that time, and the time speaks volumes about how the Hawkeye sprinters performed all weekend.

Halsmer’s 50 freestyle is the No. 5 time in the Big Ten, and he became the first Hawkeye to break the 20-second barrier since the 2011-12 season. In a conference dominated by sprinters from Ohio State and Michigan, his time puts him in contention for big points at the Big Ten meet.

Halsmer credited the team atmosphere and preparation for his swims.

“You want to see everyone else succeed more than you want to succeed yourself,” said senior Grant Betulius, who won two events — the 100 and 200 backstroke — and was a part of the winning 400-freestyle relay team. 

The Hawkeye sprinters have embraced that philosophy. Halsmer said they were happy to be beaten by their teammates because the sprinters were so good for the duration of the weekend

His sentiment was echoed by teammate Jackson Allen. Allen, a junior, Halsmer, and junior David Ernstsson swam to victory in the 400-freestyle relay with Betulius, which gave the Hawkeyes a half-point victory over Notre Dame in the three-day invitational.

“Everyone was just working each other up and getting each other ready for the next swim,” Allen said. “We’ve been pushing each other all year in practice.”

That atmosphere of racing in practice was key in the Hawkeyes victory.

“We train to race,” head coach Marc Long said. “We don’t train to train.”

Long compared the three-day meet his team participated in to lifting weights for three-straight days and credited his team for being ready all weekend.

“It’s a mental challenge,” he said. “But that’s what we prepare for.”

The Hawkeyes were more than prepared; not only did Halsmer swim a career best in the 50 freestyle, he opened up the 400-freestyle relay with a career best in his 100 as well.

Betulius was the fast person in the field on that relay with his 42.89 split. He swam so well that Halsmer said it was an honor to be on that relay with him.

Junior Roman Trussov broke a school record in the 100 breaststroke, and freshman Jerzy Twarowski broke a school record in the 100 butterfly.

Betulius also posted a school-record time in the 100 backstroke at 45.56, good for an NCAA A cut, which guarantees him a spot at the NCAA meet.

Still, there is work to be done.

“We’ve got to get better; we’ve got to get those relays in [to NCAAs], and we’ve got score more,” Long said.

As good as they were over the weekend, the Hawkeyes will get back to business soon, turning their focus again toward the end of the season.

“Bright days are ahead,” Long said. “We can’t have too many pats on our back; we have a lot of work to do.”


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