A fourth Big Ten Championship banner will hang from the east wall of IU’s Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center.
Between Wednesday night’s opening events and Saturday’s 400-meter freestyle relay at Michigan, the IU women’s swimming and diving team accumulated 823 points, scoring 158 more than the rest of the field. The Hoosiers’ effort was good enough to dethrone defending titleholder Minnesota and earn them another championship.
“It was such a wonderful transformation to watch,” IU coach Ray Looze said. “The swimmers and divers trained so hard this year. To see it materialize this year, I can’t give any more credit than possible to these swimmers and divers.”
IU scored 174 points in diving over the course of the week. Big Ten runner-up Minnesota did not bring any divers to Ann Arbor.
“For Minnesota not to bring any divers, it was just a major plus for us. We used it to our advantage,” said senior and Big Ten Diver of the Year Christina Loukas. “Three-meter (springboard) is my main event. I just focused on taking one thing at a time, focusing on myself. It was just nice being able to have two of my teammates on the stands with me.”
The Gophers struck first Wednesday, jumping out to an early lead. But by the time Thursday night was over, the Hoosier divers were able to claim the lead for IU – a theme revisited again and again all weekend.
Between the lane lines, the Hoosiers’ showing was equally impressive.
Freshman Nikki White and junior Kate Zubkova posted three conference records between them.
White set the 500-meter freestyle record during Thursday’s preliminary, only to break it by more than one second in the final. Zubkova set conference records in the 100- and 200-meter backstroke and was named the 2009 Big Ten Swimmer of the Year.
“We knew that if we swam like we were capable of swimming, it would pay off,” said senior captain Sarah Stockwell, who swam as the second leg of the winning 400-meter medley team. “I am so proud of our girls. We went so fast and posted times we never thought we would.”
Those times were good enough to earn IU four first-place finishes. Four Hoosier swimmers and two relay teams made an A cut for the NCAA Championships, while eight more made a B cut.
“We are hoping to get about 13 swimmers to the meet, but we still have to see the results from around the country,” Looze said. “We’re happy with this result, but we feel we can swim faster than we swam. We really want to make a showing.”
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