Feb. 20, 2012
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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 — For University of Iowa senior Ryan Phelan, Feb. 24, 2011, has been a date that has stuck with him.
It was on that date during the 2011 Big Ten Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships in Minneapolis that the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native finished as the runner-up in the 50-freestyle. Now, more than a year later, Phelan is aiming at making the move up the awards stand in his final Big Ten go-round.
“It is definitely motivational,” said Phelan, one of three team captains for the Hawkeyes. “Getting second (place) isn’t fun for anyone. It is something I strive for every day, and it is very motivational. I’ve taken that to practice with me every day for the last year.”
UI head coach Marc Long says Phelan has worked over the last 365 days in preparation for this championship season.
“As a coach and athlete, you train to prepare to expect to have a shot,” said Long. “He’s trained at an elite level and is prepared to do his best at this meet. We’re excited about how he has trained and competed all year. This is a tremendous opportunity for him.”
Phelan enters the Championships as Iowa’s top sprinter, posting a team-best time of 19.77 in the 50 free. The time is the third fastest in the Big Ten and the 12th fastest nationally. Only Michigan’s Evan Gregg (19.69) and Ohio State’s Jason Schnur (19.74) have sprinted to the wall quicker.
While Phelan has his individual goals lined up, he is also aiming to help Iowa move up the Big Ten team standings.
“We have a great shot of moving up in the Big Ten,” said Phelan. “It’s hard to set your sights on records and individual titles when your main goal is to move up in the team standings. It doesn’t matter how fast you go if you’re breaking records and still getting seventh. It is not what we’re looking for.”
The Hawkeyes finished seventh at the 2011 Big Ten Championships, a year after tallying a sixth place showing at the 2010 Big Ten Championships in Columbus, Ohio. If the Hawkeyes can move up two spots into fifth place, it would mark the program’s first finish in the top half of the Big Ten in 16 years. Iowa finished fifth at the 1996 championships.
“It would mean a lot because we want to build a championship level program that is contending for titles, and that would certainly be a step,” said Long. “We definitely have individual and team goals, and we have people we believe feel strongly who can be contending for titles.”
Phelan and the Hawkeyes have familiarity on their side with the championships being held in front of their home crowd at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center pool in Iowa City.
“To have it (the championships) here with our home crowd, the lights and noise… it’s going to be something that stays with me for the rest of my life,” said Phelan. “I am anticipating a great setting for a lot of Hawkeyes to come alive and show up big.”
The 2012 Big Ten Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships take place Wednesday through Saturday at the CRWC pool. Preliminaries are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 11 a.m., while the finals take place Wednesday through Saturday starting at 6:30 p.m.