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. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By SAM STYCH
IOWA CITY, Iowa — It’s still the early portion of the 2016-17 season, but for the University of Iowa swimming and diving program, the tough meets are here.
This weekend, the Hawkeyes travel to Minneapolis for a pair of conference duals against border rival Minnesota. The Gopher men are ranked 12th in the CSCAA rankings, while the women come in at 16th.
“We’re going to go up there and give it our best,” said UI head coach Marc Long. “Both Minnesota squads are solid and are going to be a tough challenge, but it’s going to be a great environment and everyone is hungry and excited to get back out there and compete.”
After a near month-long hiatus from its last competition — the Hawkeyes did hold an intrasquad meet Oct. 8 — Iowa is eager to be back in a competitive setting.
The last time the Hawkeyes raced against someone other than themselves was on Sept. 30 in their season opener in East Lansing, Michigan, where they competed in an outdoor double dual against Michigan State and Notre Dame.
Long and the UI coaching staff has been pushing the team during the past three weeks of training, but the 13th-year head coach liked what he saw.
“We’ve been pushing the team and they’ve stepped up to the challenge,” said Long. “This is a great group, both of these teams have a great energy about them, they’re young, hungry, and they like to compete. That’s exciting for us.”
While the Hawkeyes do return six NCAA qualifiers from a season ago, Iowa still is young. The Hawkeyes have a combined 18 freshmen on the men’s and women’s rosters.
While several freshmen have stood out in the early going, one freshman has started to break away from the pack. Hannah Burvill, a Great Britain native, is pacing Iowa’s freestyle sprinters early, and was one of several Hawkeye freshmen to notch first-place finishes at Iowa’s annual intrasquad meet.
Burvill won the 200 free (1:50.14) and 500 free (5:03.86) as an individual, and swam the first-leg of the winning 200-free relay team (1:34.35). She was the Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors on Oct. 5.
“This is a motivating and fun group,” said Long of the freshmen. “They’re all eager to take their performances to higher levels, and are motivated to contribute and get better. They will be an impact class.”
The Hawkeye men kickoff the weekend Friday night at 6:30 p.m. (CT), while the women follow Saturday at 11 a.m. All events will take place at Minnesota’s Jean K. Freeman Aquatics Center.