It’s the candy-striped robes they get to wear.
Sometimes they’ll even dress up in tutus and paint their faces. It keeps them loose and helps them perform better under the most pressure they face all year.
Friday, when IU travels to Tennessee for a dual meet, they’ll have a similar opportunity. It's Halloween.
“Our girls would love to dress up,” IU swimming Coach Ray Looze said.
He texted the Tennessee coach about it Wednesday.
“I said, ‘Hey our girls want to dress up in costumes,’” Looze said. “The Tennessee coach said, ‘Well, we’ll be wearing orange and black.’”
Looze said it’s all in fun. That’s just how his team is. They face the Volunteers and Kentucky Wildcats at 2 p.m.
The Hoosiers are coming off a quad meet from last weekend, when they defeated Louisville and lost to Texas and Michigan.
Looze said struggling against some of the best teams in the nation is a matter of his young team learning to adjust to the level of competition.
“We were a little flat to begin the meet,” he said. “That’s something we’re going to have to rectify against Tennessee and Kentucky, two pretty tough SEC opponents. Our flat start is something that I think is very correctable.”
Junior Brooklynn Snodgrass was the Big Ten Swimmer of the Week after winning both the 100- and 200-yard ?backstroke.
Her time of 52.48 seconds in the 100-yard back and 1:53.29 in the 200-yard back leads the nation. She also ranks in the top 10 in the 200 individual medley, a race she placed second in last weekend at Michigan.
Aside from Snodgrass, it’s been a story of the underclassmen so far for IU.
Three divers, freshmen Jessica Parratto and James Connor and sophomore Michael Hixon, have taken first in seven of the eight diving competitions through two meets.
Looze has also been impressed by freshman swimmer Kennedy Goss, who won the 500-yard freestyle at Michigan.
“She’s really been acting like a veteran early on,” Looze said. “We’ve been really, really pleased with Kennedy. She’s got the type of personality you like to see out of a high-level athlete.”
Looze anticipates his swimmers’ times may slow down a bit this weekend because of intensive training this past week.
They can’t stop training for the competition season despite having three regular-season meets in October.
That means doing weight training just 48 hours before a meet.
“They were definitely feeling it in practice, but that’s kind of the plan — what we wanted to do,” Looze said. “It could potentially slow us down a bit, no doubt, because we’ve been swimming pretty fast for this time of year.”
After today’s meet in Tennessee, IU travels to Indianapolis for another meet Saturday. The Hoosiers face IUPUI and Western Kentucky.
They have a month-long break following this weekend and will not compete again until Dec. 4 at Winter Nationals.
The spacing out of meets is something Looze is hoping to emphasize in the future.
It allows time for a more postseason-focused training routine while still having regular competitions to prepare.
“You want to have a balance of pushing your team but also building confidence at the same point,” he said. “This will be a good opportunity to keep pushing but also take that step up.”