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Relay spots still open for Iowa men's swimming

BY IAN MURPHY | FEBRUARY 06, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Big Ten and NCAA meets are nearly upon the Iowa men’s swimming team, meaning the coaching staff faces tough decisions about relays.

However, today’s competition with South Dakota and Western Illinois is a sprint-format meet, meaning there will be 50-yard distances of strokes instead of 200-yard distances, and that should provide clarity on the 200 medley and freestyle races.

While decisions have to be made, some relays provide slightly more flexibility than the others.
The 800-freestyle relay will likely be decided with results from this weekend, while the 200-freestyle relay will be decided during the Big Ten championships.

“At Big Tens, we get to see the 50s,” head coach Marc Long said. “We’ll get to see a night session and a morning session before we have to make [the 200-freestyle relay] call.”

Making that relay call may be the toughest of all, because there are seven swimmers between 20.36 and 20.75 seconds in the 50 freestyle who will vie for three of the four spots.

Sophomore Jackson Halsmer should get a spot because he holds the fastest Hawkeye time in the 50 freestyle this season. The other spots are up in the air.

“I think that helps us try to be faster,” junior Charles Holliday said about the competition. “It’s always tough, but to get the fastest relay in the end, that’s all that matters.”

Holliday, who had the top Iowa performance in the 50 freestyle in the Shamrock Invitational, said he won’t harbor any bad feelings should he not get the spot.

“If it’s not you, you step it up on the B or the C,” Holliday said. “You’re always still racing.”

Redshirt junior Brian Donatelli, who competed on the A 200 freestyle relay at the Shamrock Invitational, said there are no guarantees for any of the relays.

“Our mentality is we’re not going against one another,” he said. “We’re in this for the long haul.” 

That has been the team motto all season, because many of the relay spots, with the exception of senior Grant Betulius as the backstroker on medley relays, have been up in the air.

The depth in the sprint freestyle is a rich man’s problem for the Hawkeyes. That depth gives Iowa a fighting chance to score points from both the A and B relays at dual meets, and an insurance option should the A relay disqualify in a championship meet.

“We’re a pretty stacked group; we’re all within the blink of an eye,” Holliday said.

That competition is of benefit to the team, Long said, because it challenges them to go their fastest in both practice and at meets.

There will still be some questions after this meet. With smaller teams and a different competition format, the athletes will likely be in off events, giving the coaches the chance to see something out of the ordinary. 

“When you’re a swimmer at this level, there are a lot of events you’re very good at,” Long said. “You start swimming an event that really helps the team, and they might be really good at other events. This meet allows those events to really shine through.”

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


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