The annual Hoosierland Open usually draws many schools’ swimming and diving programs.
This year, however, swimmers will have their minds on something else: the USA Swimming Short Course Nationals in Columbus, Ohio.
Roughly 800 swimmers are bound for Ohio State’s pool to take part in the event.
These swimmers range from high school athletes to Olympic athletes such Ryan Lochte.
The IU squad, however, is used to swimming against stiff competition.
“I’ve already raced against really good swimmers like the people we have on our team alone plus the dual meets we’ve gone to,” junior Courey Schaefer said. “So that’s definitely preparing myself and everyone else for a really good meet.”
Among the solid opponents is Virginia senior freestyler Matt McLean, one of the best in the country who swims for the Cavaliers squad that defeated the Hoosiers on Nov. 19 and 20. IU sophomore Jim Barbiere said he looks forward to facing off against McLean again.
“You’re always looking to try to beat somebody who’s beat you before,” Barbiere said. “So this is going to be a good opportunity to see where I’m at. He’s one of the best freestylers in the country, so if I’m close to him, I know I’m going to be there at the end of the year.”
The event usually takes place farther away from Bloomington in places such as Seattle or Atlanta, so the team is seizing the opportunity that comes with the event’s being so close this year.
“It’s a great level of competition that is within driving distance of us,” coach Ray Looze said. “So we really couldn’t pass it up.”
About 40 members of the team have shipped off to Columbus for the next few days. Members who didn’t make the trip will look to hold the fort at this weekend’s Hoosierland Open along with the diving team.
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