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By ANDREW BREITFELDER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa swimming and diving team posted a pair of dual victories at Michigan State on Sept. 30 in a preview of what could be to come for the 2018-19 season.
Iowa head coach Marc Long is in his 15th season as the program’s head coach and this year’s schedules are as fierce as they have ever been. The Hawkeyes will host duals against the likes of Michigan, Denver, Wisconsin, and Northwestern.
“We wanted to line against the best,” said Long. “Denver will be in the top 25 and Michigan will be in the top 10 along with our other ranked opponents. The level of competition is high this year, but nothing I don’t think our guys are ready for.”
Along with the exciting dual schedule, Iowa will host the Hawkeye Invitational and travel to the ACC/B1G Challenge and Shamrock Invitational. The women will also attend the SMU Classic.
“The SMU Classic is a high-level meet, so it will be different for them to compete at that level with some Olympians,” said Long. “It’s a great chance for us to elevate ourselves and compete in a new environment.”
Only eight swimmers and one diver from each team will be allowed to compete at the SMU Classic.
Over the past several years, the Hawkeyes have shifted their recruiting philosophy more toward international recruiting. The 2018-19 team features 11 international swimmers and divers from all over the globe.
“For the level of competition in the NCAA, we look all over the world for the best talent and the best fit for our team,” said Long. “The NCAA Championships are equally as hard as the Olympics to qualify for, so we are searching for the best and brightest for our team to compete at that level.”
That impact has been felt with NCAA qualifiers Jack Smith, Hannah Burvill, Thelma Strandberg, and Jayah Mathews along with a young core of freshmen and sophomores looking to make a splash. Smith is one of four returning All-Americans along with Will Scott, Joe Myhre, and Matt Kamin.
While the Hawkeyes have a strong core to build around, the team has hidden gems among its respective groups.
“There are a lot of swimmers who have the ability to breakout on every level,” said Long. “There is Ben Colin, who has such a great story as an Iowa kid and his involvement on campus to Mateusz Arndt, who is coming in and performing well in practice. He has high credentials at worlds.”
“Our job is to continue to focus on each of those stories. We need everyone in every position to be on top of their game.”
Along with Arndt, sophomore Daniel Swanepoel is making his mark on the program early. As a freshman, Swanepoel swam to the third-best time in the Iowa record books with a time of 53.74 in the 100-yard breaststroke.
Development has been a central theme surrounding the Hawkeyes, forming their young cores into stars. The women are composed of promising underclassmen group, featuring Kelsey Drake, Lexi Horner, Mathews, and Sarah Schemmel.
“These athletes are coming on strong and embracing the training and program,” said Long. “We’re just waiting for them to blossom.”