The No. 7 IU men’s swimming and diving team wrapped up the Big Ten Championships on Saturday in West Lafayette, where it finished fifth in the conference.
The Hoosiers scored 449.5 points, 379.5 behind first-place No. 4 Michigan. No. 9 Ohio State placed second, followed by Minnesota and No. 14 Purdue.
After holding a second-place tie with Minnesota the first night, IU dropped to fifth place Friday, where its position was solidified Saturday.
“The way we finished the last day is the most important thing we did this meet,” IU coach Ray Looze said. “Going from second to fifth, we really could have laid down.”
Despite two nights of lackluster performances, the Hoosiers finished the conference
championship with positive attributes from young talent.
Freshman Eric Ress, who arguably had the strongest showing for the Hoosiers all weekend, posted a handful of personal bests, including a pair of second place finishes in the 100- and 200-meter backstroke.
“I had heard all the hype, I’d talked to alumni and I knew how special it is with how much emotion (the Big Ten Championship) evokes,” Ress said. “I couldn’t be happier with the way things went.”
Ress’ time for the 200-meter backstroke broke Michael Phelps’ age group record in the event.
“We had a really good last day,” Looze said. “That was the most important thing for us. If we had performed like that all week, we would have placed second.”
Junior Aaron Opell also swam well Saturday, taking second in the 200-meter breaststroke Saturday night and setting a new lifetime best in the event.
Opell said he was disappointed in this weekend’s performance but optimistic for the team’s future after Saturday night’s showing.
“If you were to take the first two days, it might have been disheartening,” he said. “But if you take tonight into account, it was a good learning experience.”
Sophomore diver Landon Marzullo continued a solid season with a second-place finish in the 1-meter springboard, as well as a fourth-place finish on the platform.
Freshman diver Linus Altman-Kurosaki had a pair of fifth-place finishes on the 1- and 3-meter springboards.
With only one guaranteed individual spot clinched in the NCAA Championships, the Hoosiers will have a time trial this week and partake in a last chance meet on Saturday to try to qualify for the national meet.
Those athletes who do not make it to NCAAs will begin their offseason this week, Looze said.
“We need to get a little bit tougher and be able to train at a high level,” Looze said. “Every year is a new year. Ours is going to start on Monday.”
Those who do qualify will compete in the NCAA Championships later this month in College Station, Texas.
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