Going into his final turn in the fourth leg of Saturday’s 400-meter freestyle relay, freshman Jim Barbiere’s lead disappeared. Purdue’s Dan Jung caught him as the two raced.
“Jimmy remembered to not lose his head and didn’t go too fast too early,” IU coach Ray Looze said. “He kept it long. After his turn, he just pulled away.”
Barbiere was the first to touch the wall, giving IU a 156-144 victory against the Boilermakers and silencing the packed house at Purdue’s Boilermaker Aquatics Center. All that could be heard were the jubilant cheers of the IU men’s swimming and diving team, Looze said.
Heading into the final two events of its meet against the conference rival, IU needed at least 23 points to win. They not only had to go one-two in the 200 IM but also place first and second or first and third in the 400-meter freestyle relay.
“Our guys were in a big hole and had to dig out,” Looze said.
And dig they did.
No. 7 IU went to West Lafayette to face the No. 16 Boilermakers, a team Looze said came out firing.
“It was one of those meets where we go in, and they’re going to throw everything they have at us,” Looze said. “We didn’t exactly have our game, but we won ugly. It took everything we had.”
And that included standout performances from the Hoosier’s youth.
A second-place finish on the 3-meter springboard and third place on the platform from sophomore diver Landon Marzullo helped earn nine valuable points for IU against one of the nation’s top divers and 2008 Olympian David Boudia of Purdue.
“Purdue outscored us in diving, but without those nine points, we don’t win the meet,” Looze said.
Senior breaststroker and captain Heath Tameris said contributions from all 24 swimmers ensured victory in the team’s final dual meet of the season.
“We won as a team,” Tameris said. “This meet gave us confidence, excitement and experience.”
Senior captain Matt Lenton had another big afternoon, winning the 50-meter freestyle by one-hundredth of a second as well as performing as the second leg for the winning 400-free relay team.
“Across the board, everyone’s confidence is up,” Lenton said. “A lot of guys, especially the freshmen, stepped up. It’s hard not to get caught up in that.”
Big performances by young swimmers included first-place finishes in the 100- and 200-meter backstroke events by freshman Eric Ress as well as sophomore Titus Knight’s 200-meter freestyle win and sophomore Tyler Lemert’s 100-meter breaststroke victory.
“A responsibility as a captain is to not only lead by example but to also pump confidence into these young guys,” Tameris said. “I tell them to expect to score and expect to win.”
In two weeks, the Hoosiers travel north to West Lafayette once more – only this time, it will be to try to earn their 25th Big Ten Championship. For now Looze said he is just pleased his team is able to scrap out wins against adversity.
“I’ve really got to hand it to our guys,” Looze said. “Our depth really made the difference. Last year we had a deep team, but this team is certainly deeper.”
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