The No. 1-ranked IU men’s swimming and diving team continued its successful start to the season Friday by picking up a pair of wins in Knoxville, Tennessee. IU (4-0) took down No. 15 Tennessee and Kentucky to bring its dual-meet win streak up to 17.
The streak, which has now spanned the past two seasons, has impressed head swimming coach Ray Looze.
“It’s a tremendous accomplishment,” Looze said. “We have, arguably, the hardest dual-meet schedule, annually.”
While the men rolled, the No. 7 ranked women's team only won one out of two meets, as the Hoosiers beat No. 15 Kentucky, 157-143 but lost to No. 12 Tennessee 159-141. The meet against Tennessee was close until the very end, head diving coach Drew Johansen said.
“Whenever you’re swimming or diving against the SEC schools, you’re prepared for a hard competition,” Johansen said. “Obviously we were certainly ready for Kentucky, and Tennessee was really tight for us.”
While it’s still early in the season, Looze said his women’s squad has a lot to improve upon after losing to Tennessee, a team ranked below the Hoosiers.
“Tennessee is probably a better team than we are,” Looze said. “Once you start seeing more competitions, the rankings get more accurate over time.”
The stars of the meet were no surprise as senior Blake Pieroni and junior Jessica Parratto racked up three wins and two wins, respectively.
Pieroni won the 50m free (19.65), 100m free (43.07) and 200m free (1:47.18), all of them being NCAA B cut times. Pieroni’s times in the 50m and 100m free are both the third-fastest times in the nation this season.
Coach Looze extolled Pieroni's athletic accomplishments.
“He’s an Olympic Gold medalist, he’s been to World Championships, he’s one of the better swimmers in the NCAA,” Looze said. “He continues to impress. Nothing surprises me with Blake.”
Meanwhile, on the diving side, Parratto continued her impressive start to the season by winning the 1-meter dive (302.35) and placing second in the 3-meter dive (297.20).
Both scores were NCAA qualifiers for Parratto.
"Jessica represented the U.S. in Rio (Olympics) on the platform, but she is one of the country’s best springboard divers as well,” Johansen said.
While the season is still young, as only two meets have taken place, Looze is impressed with one swimmer in particular: junior Mohamed Samy.
“He’s probably one of our better swimmers,” Looze said. “We didn’t really realize how good he would be in backstroke. Without him we would really be sunk.”
Samy impressed in Knoxville, winning both the 100m backstroke (47.99) and 200m backstroke (1:45.65).
Looze also said Samy’s versatility has been a huge factor as he also competes in the individual medley, freestyle relay and both medley relays, the 200m and 400m.
“He’s a stud, he's been on point," Looze said.
The Hoosiers have this week off after back-to-back meets in Gainesville, Florida, and Knoxville. IU will return home on Thursday, Nov. 9, to face Notre Dame and Cincinnati at Counsilman Billingsley Aquatic Center in Bloomington.
The Thursday afternoon meet will have a different feel as IU rarely has meets during the week. The competition was originally scheduled for Friday, but the IU water polo team has a home tournament Friday, so the swimming and diving meet had to be moved, according to Looze.
“We’re looking forward to having our first home meet, our divers always perform well at home,” Johansen said. “Especially with all of our new rotations on the team, it’ll be really exciting for them to have the home pool advantage and take advantage of it.”
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