Feb. 16, 2007
IOWA CITY, IA –
With another season almost in the books, the men’s swimming team is looking forward to ending the 2007 season on a high note at the Big Ten Championships. A good performance will give the young team confidence heading into next season.
At the start of the season, the Hawkeyes welcomed eight new faces. For Head Coach Marc Long, it’s been a season filled with growth.
“This team has really grown in more ways than just performances,” said Long. “With such young people, you want them to come together and get in line with our expectations and our goals. They’re really starting to do that and we’ve seen some real glimpses of a bright future.”
One of Iowa’s main problems at the moment is its lack of depth. The team only has 18 swimmers on the roster. This makes it difficult to compete with other teams. Most teams have a full roster, which allows them to score more points.
“It’s been difficult. At times when we think we’re faster than some teams and they beat us because of numbers,” said junior captain, Andrej Lenert.
Long admits that it has been challenging. But, it’s not completely a bad thing. It has given the younger swimmers the opportunity to dive in head first and learn how to compete at the Big Ten level, which is arguably the deepest conference in the country.
As the team’s captain this season, Lenert believes that the team’s growth is due in part to a different attitude.
“I think there’s been a lot more commitment to practice and training than in years past. That’s definitely been a positive compared to the past couple seasons,” said Lenert.
Junior Andrej Lenert
Although he hasn’t been a very vocal leader, Lenert does he’s tried to lead by example with his overall commitment to the program. Not just in the pool, but in the classroom. Long calls it a quiet leadership. He attributes Lenert with having a stabilizing effect on the young team.
“He’s very steady and studious and works hard. I think it has a calming influence on the group,” said Long.
Looking ahead to Big Ten’s, that calming influence may be needed. Lenert and five other upperclassmen will be looked upon to provide that.
“We have some talented freshmen, but upperclassmen have been through it,” said Long. “On that first night when you can’t sleep, you’ve got someone who can say, `Hey, chill a little bit. It’s fine.’ That’s one nice thing about the upperclassmen; to show leadership and experience.”
To get the freshmen ready for Big Tens, junior Dragos Agache has given them one key piece of advice.
“I just told them to stay with their routine, stay relaxed and not to worry about it,” said Agache. “Everything will just come naturally.”
Junior Dragos Agache
Long is not sure what to expect at Big Tens, though he does hope to see his seniors do well. For him, it’s a great feeling to see his swimmers end their careers on a positive note.
One swimmer he expects to perform exceptionally well is Agache. Last season, he qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 100 and 200 breaststroke. He also competed in the European Championships during the summer with Romania. He headed into this season with high expectations.
“He’s in a whole different boat than a lot of the guys because he’s been training all year expecting to do well at the NCAA Championships. The Big Ten meet is your qualifying meet,” said Long. “He’s going to go into Big Tens looking to do special things.”
Agache’s performance is something that the team can also learn from. He can show others it is achievable to compete at the highest collegiate level. That’s what Long wants the rest of swimmers to strive for. Iowa has a proud swimming program and Long wants to get them back into the upper half of the Big Ten.
“Regardless of what the score says or the placing [at Big Tens], we are making huge strides and we tell the team that they are a part of that,” said Long.
Josh Mitchell, Iowa Sports Information