That’s how long it had been since IU men’s swimming and diving beat Michigan in a dual meet. That streak ended Friday in an electric Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatics Center with the Hoosier men beating the Wolverines, 167-133.
“It’s just a really important turning point for our program in general,” sophomore swimmer Ian Finnerty said. “We’ve been on the rise for a while now. I didn’t get to swim Michigan last year in dual meet, and it was super exciting to have that kind of atmosphere, and I think going forward it’s just a confidence boost going into the championship season.”
The Hoosiers were led by strong performances from Finnerty and fellow sophomore Vini Lanza. Finnerty in particular stood out for IU. He was the only IU swimmer to win four events — the 100- and 200-yard backstrokes, the 200-yard individual medley, and the 200-yard medley relay.
Lanza also proved crucial for the Hoosiers. He finished first in the 100- and 200-yard butterflies and the 200-yard medley relay.
“I don’t know where we would’ve been without those two guys,” IU head swim coach Ray Looze said. “They really, really stepped up, won close races, ‘cause the meet could’ve been very different without that. We just needed more of that ‘cause that’s what we’re capable of.”
Junior Blake Pieroni had a good day in the pool as well. He won the 100- and 200-yard freestyles and the 400-yard freestyle relay.
Finnerty also explained how the atmosphere inside the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatics Center pushed those in the pool.
“This is the fullest I’ve ever seen it been since I’ve been swimming here,” Finnerty said. “You had both teams going at it, cheering sections going at it. The crowds are competing as well as we are. It’s awesome.”
The Hoosiers got another huge boost from their ever-so-efficient diving squad, sweeping both the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard thanks to Michael Hixon, James Connor and Cody Coldren, who finished first, second and third, respecitvely, in both events. Hixon has come up big for the Hoosiers all year and again posted big numbers Friday with scores of 430.43 in the 1-meter and a 443.33 in the 3-meter that earned him the win in both diving events.
IU Diving Coach Drew Johansen described how Hixon and Connor push each other day in and day out, which he said he believes leads to results like those against Michigan.
“The two of them in the practice setting every day though, push each other to limits that go beyond just what they would do just by themselves,” Johansen said. “And that’s the whole squad, which is really cool. And that’s why you see performances like that.”
The win against Michigan also gives IU a huge confidence boost that they can fulfill their preseason goal of winning the Big Ten and a top-5 finish at the NCAA Championships.
“Coming into the meet I think we were pretty confident we were going to win,” Finnerty said. “I think it’s just kind of an assurance that we are on the right track and we are getting ready to lead in to hopefully a top-five at NCs and a win at Big Tens, and I think definitely it’s a surge forward that we got from winning this.”
The win also put the Hoosiers at 9-0 on the season and is their 11th dual meet victory in a row dating back to last year. Only Louisville and Purdue remain this season.
On the women’s side, the Hoosiers had a rough go at it against the Wolverines. The IU women lost 211-87. The loss dropped them to 6-3 on the season.
“I have to apologize to the Hoosier nation,” Looze said. “That was a regrettable performance, and, ultimately, as the head coach, I need to take responsibility for that.”
For the swimmers, strong performances came from sophomore Lilly King and senior Gia Dalesandro. King swept topped the 100- and 200-yard breaststrokes, and Dalesandro finished second in the 100- and 200-yard butterflies, 200-yard medley relay, and 200-yard individual medley.
“I didn’t want to be unrealistic with the girls,” King said after a players-only meeting post-meet. “We just got out of meeting, and I said, ‘We were not going to win that meet. They’re a much more talented team than we are, and we need to be working harder.’ It was a tough loss, but I think we’re gonna bounce back well.”
From the diving side, junior Jessica Parratto took first in both the 1-meter and 3-meter events with scores of 304.28 and 332.70, respectively.
“Jess had a great day,” Johansen said. “She’s putting her springboard list back together and is really tracking well toward having great performances in the postseason.”
While the results didn’t yield what many had hoped, the women’s squad feels confident about its next two matchups with Purdue and Louisville.
“I think as we continue racing we’ll get better and better,” Dalesandro said. “I think a lot of people are really tired right now, so the more they get used to their body, picking their body up and racing the better we’re going to get, and we always have that end goal of a Big Ten Championship in mind, so we’re working towards that.”
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