The No. 8 IU women’s swimming and diving team will face its toughest competition to date when it travels to Ann Arbor, Mich., this weekend to compete in a three-way meet with Texas and Michigan in a showdown between three of the nation’s premier programs.
Texas comes into the meet ranked No. 7 in the nation, while Michigan currently sits at No. 14.
“We’re really looking forward to the competition this weekend against some of the toughest teams we’re going to face all year,” said distance coach Mike Westphal. “We’re looking forward to going in there and making a statement.”
The 2-0 Hoosiers will be returning to Canham Natatorium, the site of last year’s Big Ten Championships, where Michigan snuck by them to finish second overall. IU finished third.
The team wants to prove that this year, they are the better team.
“We’re going to go into this meet really aggressive,” said sophomore Amanda Smith. “Michigan beat us in the Big Ten’s last year, so we’re psyched to race them. We’re really determined.”
Many Hoosiers have stood out this year, but perhaps none more than 2008 Olympian Kate Zubkova, who won all four of her events in last weekend’s meet against Northwestern.
As a sophomore, she finished second in the 200-yard backstroke and third in the 100-yard backstroke in last year’s NCAA Championships. She won both events at the Big Ten Championships.
Like the team, Zubkova will also be facing her biggest challenge of the year.
“It’s going to be really hard for me to win,” Zubkova said. “Texas and Michigan both have really good swimmers in my events. But if I can beat such strong swimmers, I know it will be easier for me to win in the NCAAs.”
The team continues to train hard despite the stiff competition, Westphal said, noting that the focus is on the end-of-year meets, the Big Ten and NCAA Championships.
“We don’t rest up for anybody throughout the year until the Big Tens,” Westphal said. “We’re just approaching it like our past meets, racing our competition and seeing how many events we can win.”
“(The coaches) haven’t let up at all,” Smith said. “It’s still the same intensity. It’s still grueling. We’re all sore and tired, but when we have a challenge in front of us, we won’t back down.”
For the second straight week, a Hoosier has been recognized by the Big Ten as an athlete of the week.
Last week, Zubkova was awarded Big Ten Swimmer of the Week for her performance against Kentucky. This week, junior Brittany Feldman was named Big Ten Diver of the Week for her strong showing against Northwestern.
Feldman won the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard events, leading a dominant Hoosier diving squad that took places 1-4 in the 3-meter and 1-5 in the 1-meter event.
The meet begins Friday night and continues during the day on Saturday.
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Pietersen and Lomeli both previously worked with IU.
Parsons will be representing Canada.
The event starts at 4:30 p.m.