Hawkeyes Thriving Early

Nov. 7, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — There are different steps and goals the University of Iowa swimming and diving teams set out to accomplish throughout the season. The Hawkeyes have thrived through the opening act.

On Nov. 4 at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center Pool, the UI men’s team crossed off one item on its goal list, downing Minnesota, 160.5-139.5, to improve to 3-0 this season. It was the team’s first victory over the Golden Gophers in more than a decade with last win coming in 1997.

During the last two seasons, the Hawkeyes won 10 and seven duals with a single blemish on their resume — both coming against Minnesota. The Gophers downed Iowa 184-14 during the 2009-10 season and 177-19 a year ago.

This year, it was a different story for four-year seniors Ryan Phelan, Paul Gordon, Duncan Partridge and Brian Tremml.

“This is a long time coming,” said UI head coach Marc Long. “This group has been together since their freshman year. They’ve gotten more and more confidence throughout the years, and they’ve worked so hard.”

Three UI men’s swimmers — Phelan, Gordon and junior Byron Butler – have already posted NCAA “B” qualifying times. Phelan, who was named the Big Ten Swimmer of the Week on Nov. 1, has set the school record and qualified in the 50-free (19.90); Gordon has qualified in the 100 (44.07) and 200-free (1:37.74) and Byron Butler in the 200-back (1:46.58).

The Hawkeyes have also posted a qualifying time in the 200-medley relay (1:28.98).

“We have a group of hungry athletes, and our seniors worked hard to get to this point for four years,” said Long. “We have more experience and depth this year. That’s a big difference as well as good leadership.”

The Hawkeye women’s team suffered its first defeat of the 2011-12 season against Minnesota, falling by the score of 205-95. Even in defeat, the optimism surrounding the program is high, as the team features a talented group of 27 underclassmen (14 sophomores, 13 freshmen).

One of those newcomers — freshman Becky Stoughton — has been remarkable, setting a combined 12 records (pool/school) in the first four meets of her Hawkeye career. Against the Gophers, Stoughton won and set school and pool records in the 1,000-free, 500-free and 400-IM — two of which are NCAA “B” qualifying times.

“The set of events she did is really one of the toughest triples when you look at the events and distance that you can do in a dual meet,” said Long. “She loves to race and works hard. It’s infectious, and I can feel the entire team feeding off on that.”

Long thinks the team’s performance early in the season will help them prepare for the “peak meets” in February and March. Two of those meets — the 2012 Big Ten Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships and the 2012 Big Ten Women’s Swimming and Diving Championship — will be held in Iowa City in February.

“This will help our training, preparing for down the road,” said Long. “It was a great win, but there are still a lot of improvements we can make, so that’s what we’re going to work on.

“This team has its goals… this is just another step in the process.”