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Saturday, March 2
The Indiana Daily Student


Swim, dive plunge into 2014

After more than a month without competition, the IU men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will start the second half of their season this weekend as they travel to Iowa City.

The swimming teams haven’t competed since Dec. 8 at the United States Swimming Winter Nationals. After a short break, the Hoosiers were back in practice to begin the year.

With the bad weather at the beginning of last week, they were forced to condense six days of training down to five.

IU Coach Ray Looze said he saw fatigue during that stretch, but his swimmers were able to accomplish what they needed to as they added power and speed to the training equation.

“We dropped our volume and added more quality, which was all part of the plan,” he said. “We’re ready to get back and start competing again.”

Junior swimmer Justine Ress said winter break was a good time for the team to start focusing more on the details.

“It’s just very race-oriented,” she said. “We really focus on the little things right now, especially in January preparing for Big Tens and all these dual meets.”

The women will compete against Big Ten foes Iowa and Illinois, as well as Missouri.

Freshman breaststroker Heather Hayes has returned to practice after suffering from mononucleosis, and injured sophomore Siri Kristiansen is also back. The two won’t compete this weekend, but Looze said it’s “nice to be whole again.”

The men’s team will face Iowa and No. 7 Missouri.

Not only does this meet kick off the second half of the season, but it opens Big Ten play. Looze said though Iowa always presents stiff competition, it’s nothing new for his team.

“We’ve been through the wringer, both the women and the men, so I don’t think it’ll be anything they haven’t seen,” Looze said. “We may be a little rusty having not competed since early December, but hopefully that’ll get shaken off really quick.”

Outside of conference competition, the women will face a Southeastern Conference opponent in Missouri.

Ress said it’s exciting for them to see a non-conference team, but Iowa and Illinois will prepare them more for the future.

“We have three back-to-back-to-back dual meets in the month of January after having such a long stretch of not competing,” she said. “I think they (Iowa and Illinois) will be a good competitor to gauge how the Big Ten is doing just in general.”

The diving team is back in competition mode this weekend as well.

Seniors Darian Schmidt, Kate Hillman and redshirt freshman Jessica Parratto competed at the U.S. Diving National Championships at the end of December.

IU Coach Drew Johansen said they started slow but got better toward the end of the week.

Parratto took gold in the synchronized event, putting up the highest score (370) in the final round. Schmidt was second in the men’s three-meter synchronized. Their success earned them spots on the U.S. National Team.

Johansen said training has been great during break, especially because renovations to the diving well are now complete.

“We’ve added a water belt system to the one- and three-meter that is a game changer for these guys,” he said. “We’re really excited to have the new tools in our hands, and the team is doing really well.”

Both the swimming and diving teams have had weeks of practice to prepare for the second half of their season. But it’s not just progress in the pool that has been encouraging.

The team had a first semester cumulative GPA of 3.1, with more than eight men and eight women earning a 3.5 or better. Looze said he hopes this success translates from the classroom to the pool.

“Whenever you have really good academics, it typically coincides with a really good season because you’ve got people that are super committed to a lot of parts of their life,” he said.

As a first-year coach, Johansen said the break was a chance to get to know his team better.

“We’ve gone through a full training cycle, competitions, a little bit of a break and now we’ve come back and we’re all speaking the same language right away,” Johansen said. “A lot of trust has been gained on both sides of the fence, and that just accelerates the learning process.”

Follow reporter Grace Palmieri on Twitter @GPalmieri7.

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