Sept. 26, 2013
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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 — Opportunity is the word being tossed around the University of Iowa’s Campus Recreation and Wellness Center Pool with the UI men’s swimming and diving team preparing for its season-opening dual against Michigan, the defending NCAA champion.
“This is great for our program and a tremendous opportunity,” said UI head coach Marc Long. “This is very early. A typical dual meet kickoff would be the second or third week in October, and we’re doing this the last week of September.
“This group worked hard in the offseason, and we’re excited to see them race.”
With the 2014 Big Ten Championships being held in Ann Arbor at Michigan’s Canham Natatorium, the Hawkeyes wanted to get a look at the facility beforehand. When the opportunity arose for Iowa to swim a dual against the Wolverines, it was a no brainer for Long.
“To get exposure like this has kept everybody sharper,” said Long. “This is exciting and something different.”
“For this to be our first competition, it will set the stage for the rest of the year. We’re starting off the year with a bang in facing the best. You have to face the best to get up to that level and eventually be the best. It will be a good challenge and opportunity. I’ll be ready to race and the team will be too. We have to take advantage of this opportunity.”
UI junior Grant Betulius
Junior Grant Betulius, an honorable mention All-American in three events at the 2013 NCAA Championship, knows the type of challenge that will be in store for the Hawkeyes this weekend, but he says the team is ready to go.
“They are the best-of-the-best,” said Betulius. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to be able to race them on their home turf.”
Iowa has competed against the Wolverines in the Hawkeye Invitational in December in each of the past two seasons. Those competitions came when Iowa had previous competitions under its belts. Betulius believes facing Michigan so early can be a springboard for the team.
“For this to be our first competition, it will set the stage for the rest of the year,” he said. “We’re starting off the year with a bang in facing the best. You have to face the best to get up to that level and eventually be the best.
“It will be a good challenge and opportunity. I’ll be ready to race and the team will be too. We have to take advantage of this opportunity.”
After competing in the Friday dual, the Hawkeyes will participate in the second-annual Michigan Water Carnival on Saturday.
The unique two-hour event is designed to celebrate the aquatic sports of swimming, diving and water polo and increase awareness and exposure. The water carnival features events that are both familiar and unique like the 50-yard underwater dolphin kick and 200-yard freestyle with fins.
Betulius is looking forward to the uniqueness of the Michigan Water Carnival, but says first-and-foremost, the Hawkeyes are going to Ann Arbor to race.
“It will be a fun, relaxing event,” said Betulius of the water carnival. “It will be a fun to participate in, but we won’t focus on Saturday until after we race Friday. That is the reason we’re going there is to compete in the dual against Michigan.”
The combined dual, which will also include the UI women’s team, begins at 4 p.m. (CT) Friday, while the Michigan Water Carnival begins at 10 a.m. Saturday.