Iowa Off to Alabama for NCAA Championships

March 15, 2012

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 — They’re at two different points in their University of Iowa swimming and diving careers… one is coming to a close and one is in its beginning stages. But this week, senior Veronica Rydze and freshman Becky Stoughton will represent the Hawkeyes at the 2012 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in Auburn, Ala.

Rydze advanced through the NCAA Zone D Diving Championships last weekend in Iowa City, while Stoughton posted NCAA qualifying times in a pair of events at the 2012 Big Ten Championships.

Rydze heads to SEC country looking for her second straight All-America accolade, but it took guts and determination for the Iowa City native to make a repeat appearance. After failing to advance through on the one-meter — the event she earned All-America honors on in 2011 — Rydze had to qualify on the three-meter springboard.

“The key was mental toughness,” said UI diving coach Bob Rydze, Veronica’s father. “The first day she missed both of her reverse optionals. Her back was against the ball, so she had to make it on the three meter.

“She scratched and clawed back… it was one dive at a time. Her last dive, she did a back, two and a half twister and the Texas coach said that was the best one he’d seen her do all week. To be real honest, I didn’t watch the dive. I listened to the crowd to see whether she hit it or not.”

Now the elder Rydze says his daughter needs to continue the “one dive at a time attitude” into the NCAA Championships. Should Veronica Rydze put together a complete performance and garner All-America honors, she would be just the third Hawkeye to earn the distinction more than once.

“Right now, I’m just happy she’s there,” said Bob Rydze. “It’s hard enough to get there. We’re just going to take one dive at a time and see what happens.

“You have to get up and be consistent and dive well. That’s the name of the game… you don’t have to do anything special. You have to get up, do your dives and dive well.”

After putting together an all-around special performance at the Big Ten Championships en route to being named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Stoughton is set for her first NCAA Championships. The Peoria, Ill., native will compete in the 500 and 1,650 freestyle events at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center.

Stoughton is the first Hawkeye swimmer to qualify for the NCAAs since Jennifer Skolaski swam in three events in 2005, and she is the first Iowa freshman to qualify since Skolaski in 2002.

Head coach Marc Long doesn’t know what Stoughton’s prospects are for the Championships, but he’s certain of one thing… she’ll give it her all and race until the end.

“It’s hard to say how she’ll fair,” said Long. “She’s such a developing swimmer. She’s excited and loves to race, so those are great combinations heading into the meet. She’s going to go there and give it her best, and we’ll see what happens. Clearly her best swims are ahead of her.”

The preliminaries of the 500 freestyle will take place today beginning at 11 a.m., while the one meter springboard will begin at 1:30 p.m. The prelims of three meter springboard will be held on Friday at 1:30 p.m., while the 1,650 freestyle will take place on Saturday.

For live results and live video of the NCAA Championships, visit