Men look to replicate success of women’s team at Big Ten Tournament

The IU women put on a show for spectators last weekend, winning the Big Ten Championship by a 243-point margin. Starting Wednesday, the men look to deliver an encore.

The Men’s Big Ten Championships, in Minneapolis, Minn., start today and continue until Saturday night.

Many of the men were present to support the women when they defeated the rest of the Big Ten.

“I hope they understand how hard it’s going to be, and that’s what I’m going to be telling them,” IU coach Ray Looze said. “This is going to be a challenge, and they could be behind for a lot of the meet, but the only thing that matters is what
happens in the end.”

While Looze said he wants his team to take the meet seriously, he doesn’t want the pressure to get to the athletes.

“I hope they watched how the women handled that,” Looze said. “Just being loose and having a good time, just kind of deflecting the pressure and turning it on its backside by being zany and just taking the more spirited approach.”

While swimmers like sophomore Jim Barbiere agreed that being relaxed and loose is important, Barbiere said he finds importance in “learning to get your mind in the right place before the meet.”

“Having fun is a huge part of it but having fun comes through winning,” Barbiere said. “So that’s what we usually feed off of: staying focused through that.”

The competition will be tough, with six Big Ten teams ranked in the top 25. Michigan, which has won the most Big Ten Championships with 33, is ranked highest, at No. 9

The No. 11 Buckeyes, who won the conference title last year for the first time since 1956, return with 12 swimmers who scored points in last year’s Big Ten Championships and six All-Americans, anchored by sophomore Tim Phillips and
senior Elliott Keefer.

Looze said the team feels like it is prepared for this high level of competition because it has been working for this all season-long.

“There’s not a whole lot physically left to do other than fine-tune and work on turns, starts, relay exchanges, and we’ve done that,” he said. “Every ‘t’ we could cross or ‘i’ we could dot, we’ve done that. Our preparation has been solid.”

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