Saturday’s Indiana swimming and diving competition in Bloomington against in-state foe Purdue will be unlike any other dual meet in IU’s history.
The real news surrounding this meet is not about the margin in the race for the Crimson and Gold Cup, nor is it about a meeting between two ranked programs, with Purdue’s men being ranked No. 20 and the women ranked No. 18.
Rather, the true headlines about this meeting between the two rival programs revolve around the fact that the competition will be televised live on the Big Ten Network — the first time ever for any Big Ten swimming and diving event.
“We think it is awesome and a great opportunity for our team that this meet will be televised,” IU junior diver Zac Nees said. “With the cameras on us, it will cause people to step up a little bit more and set some personal bests on the season. It may add a little pressure, but many of us have experience competing in these type of meets, so I think it will be an advantage to our team.”
With the meet being the first swimming and diving event ever broadcast live on BTN, many steps were taken, both by IU and the network, to ensure this historic occasion will happen as planned.
Every year, each Big Ten university has the option to choose two or three events (as decided by the network) to be telecast on BTN, and this year, IU had two. For one of those two events, IU elected in September to show the swimming and diving meet against Purdue, which is set to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday.
“The fact that this meet is between Indiana and Purdue is huge, and that’s one of the reasons we chose this,” Assistant Athletic Director for Broadcast Services Jeremy Gray said. “It’s going to be a dual meet, it’s going to be men and women competing, and we have a great swimming history that we’re very proud of. The fact that we’re going to be able to broadcast this across the country where our alumni and our swimming parents from around the world will be able to watch it will be big. And with Crimson and Gold Cup points on the line, we think it’s huge.”
Once the request was submitted to BTN, Senior Coordinating Producer Bob Lanning ran with it. Lanning, who organizes the broadcasts of 500 Big Ten sporting events during the academic year, said when he looked at Saturday’s broadcast schedule after receiving IU’s request, what he found surprised him.
“We had a unique opportunity this weekend in that we didn’t have any live programming already scheduled on the network at the time of the competition,” Lanning said. “I got with our programming guys and said I would prefer to do this live. A Purdue/Indiana meet is what we would consider premier programming on the network, so from a network-scheduling standpoint, there were no issues for us.”
After months of cooperation between the school and the network, the idea finally came to fruition within the past month, as the plans were officially made to broadcast the meet. The broadcast itself will start at 11:30 a.m. Saturday after the diving competition takes place. In addition, Lanning hired swimming and diving broadcasters Rowdy Gaines and Bernie Guenther. The diving analyst will be Cynthia Potter, an IU alumna and former Olympic diver, to call the live meet.
“These two individuals bring a unique combination of broadcasting ability and knowledge about the sport to the table,” Lanning said. “For Cynthia to have been an IU alumna and having been around the Big Ten much of her career, she will be a great asset in addition to Rowdy’s broadcasting history and overall knowledge of the sport, having been a world class swimmer himself.”
Though the camera lights will be on the Hoosiers at the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatics Center on Saturday, IU Coach Ray Looze said the team’s true focus will be on the pool.
“We want to go hard and do the best we can for the University and all of Hoosier Nation,” Looze said. “Last year, the women got beat pretty bad, so I’ve got to think the women will be pretty motivated. On the men’s side, the meet came down to the last couple of events, too. There’s no easy meets when you’re Indiana. Everybody wants to beat us because it’s Indiana.”
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