At the Early Bird Invitational at the Morgan J. Burke Aquatic Center on the campus of Purdue University, eight teams, including both the men's and women's IU teams, will compete in a three-day event Thursday to Saturday.
Events will occur throughout each day, and the Hoosiers will face stiff competition in their final November meet.
IU's teams enter the tournament both still inside the top 10 of the national rankings. The undefeated men's team is still No. 1 while the women's team is No. 9.
The Hoosiers will compete against Florida, Purdue, Virginia Tech, Missouri State, Southern Illinois, the Navy men’s team and the Florida International women’s team. Individual divers from North Carolina and Indiana State will also be competing.
The prestigious three-day event will include 13 Olympians and student-athletes from more than 30 countries. Junior swimmer Vini Lanza said he can't wait to face that type of competition.
“I’m not nervous, I’m pretty pumped,” Lanza said. “It’s always good to kill Dressel. He shredded us last summer and its always good to race big guys like that.”
The swimmer Lanza referenced is two-time Olympic gold medalist Caeleb Dressel, a junior at Florida. This will be the second time IU has swam against Florida and Dressel this season, the IU men's team won the previous meeting this season in Gainesville, Florida, 242-187.
While the men’s squad has been unstoppable this season (6-0), the women’s team has struggled early in the season going .500 (3-3).
Junior Lilly King was disappointed after IU's last meet, despite winning both of her individual events. King was angry at how her team responded to adversity after losing to Notre Dame by three points last Thursday.
“I swam fine, I’m just not happy with how the team did, we’re losing a lot of close races and making a lot of sloppy errors,” King said.
Head swimming Coach Ray Looze said the women’s team is top heavy with little depth outside the top few swimmers. Looze agreed with King about the team accountability.
“Losing has gotta bother people a little more,” Looze said. “We lost a close one to Tennessee, and apparently it didn’t bother them enough because they did it again.”
The loss to Tennessee was another close defeat for the IU women's team of the lady Hoosiers as they lost 159-141 in Knoxville, Tennessee, a few weeks ago.
Looze mentioned how King has done all she can. He said he's looking for other Hoosiers to step up other than King.
“We need more people that are competitive,” Looze said. “You can’t just flip a switch at the end of the season if you haven’t done it all year.”
Looze said this type of effort and accountability has to change during practice because it’s hard to change on the go during the middle of the season.
Looze compared the women’s team to another IU squad, the IU men's basketball team and Coach Archie Miller.
“Coach Miller said his team was soft on Friday, and if you’re soft you will lose every battle in sports,” Looze said. “I just wanna see more fight.”
This will be the first three-day meet of the season for IU, which provides more spacing in between each event.
“It’s kind of different from a dual meet, but I like it better; you do less events per day,” Lanza said. “You can focus more on one event per day and that makes a lot of difference to me.”
While Lanza is excited for shaking up the season with a three-day meet, Looze thinks it will also give the team an idea of an important aspect for their season.
“It’ll really let us know what our depth is like,” Looze said. “We’re just trying to build the best team towards championship season.”
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