Hawkeye kids in a candy store

Sept. 29, 2010

UI Swimming & Diving Media Day photo gallery | UI Swimming & Diving Media Day interviews

IOWA CITY, Iowa — It’s finally here. Not the grand opening for the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center (CRWC), but the opening of a much-anticipated swimming & diving season at the University of Iowa.

“We pride ourselves on being a scrappy team,” UI sophomore Jordan Huff said. “We were competitive in the Field House and we’re going to continue that here. We’re going to have that same intensity and keep working for the wins.”

Huff and his teammates, along with the UI coaching staff, were available Wednesday for Media Day in the CRWC. After the interviews and photos, the Hawkeyes dove in for practice.

The Iowa men’s team returns its top performer in 10 of 17 individual events and all four legs in four of five relays. Last season the Hawkeyes posted the best dual record in program history (10-1), going 3-1 against Big Ten Conference competition. Their sixth-place finish at the league championships is the school’s highest in 14 seasons.

“Cleary we want to be at the NCAA meet and scoring at that meet,” UI head coach Marc Long said. “We have some great senior leadership, a bunch of new people we think are very talented, so it’s going to take a few months.”

The NCAA swimming season extends from October to March, so Long and the Hawkeyes will ease into things during Saturday’s Black & Gold Intrasquad at 11 a.m. The same is true of the dual against Truman State on Oct. 8. During the intrasquad scrimmage, the Hawkeyes will `race for a cure,’ supporting heart disease awareness. Admission is free.

“The first few meets are basically tuneups and this first one is a fun introduction to college swimming for our many freshmen,” Long said. “We even have a little fun with how the teams are picked. The serious part is that we get a chance to see them race again in a short-course environment. Our peak is in February, March, so early on as we progress, it’s about seeing people race again.”

Long enters his seventh season as head coach at Iowa where during his tenure the program has set 17 school records and 39 Hawkeyes have provisionally-qualified for the NCAA Championships.

The Iowa women return the top performer in 12 of 14 individual events and a solid class of newcomers will add depth.

Sophomore April Allen, one of eight Hawkeyes voted to the captain’s council by their peers, is a native of Cedar Rapids and has waited a long time for the CRWC to open.

“There’s nothing like this in Iowa or the Midwest,” she said. “When I was little I always wanted to swim for the Hawkeyes and people would tell me that Iowa was going to build a new pool. Now that we finally have it, it’s a good feeling.”

Last season the Iowa women finished 8-4 overall (2-3 in the Big Ten) and placing ninth at the conference championship.

“Typically this is an exciting time anyway, but having a facility like hits where we can train at an elite level is still hard to believe,” Long said. “We feel like the proverbial kid in a candy store.”