After the success of last year’s team — men finished 12th in the nation and women finished 10th, — anticipation surrounded the meet Thursday night against Cincinnati.
“I think it’s a good step forward, but we have a lot of work to do,” IU Coach Ray Looze said. “We’re in pretty heavy training right now, and our kids need to understand that they can swim fast and perform at a high level, even when they’re tired. Some did, but we need to do that on a more comprehensive scale.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams defeated the Bearcats in their home opener, with the men outscoring Cincinnati 157-135 and the women winning 186-105.
The men took home seven swimming events and both of the men’s diving events, and the women triumphed in 13 swimming events and two of the diving events.
Junior Joshua Arndt took first in the 1-meter and 3-meter platform dives for his first dual-meet win on both boards.
“It was a great start to the season,” Arndt said. “I feel like this was a meet that I was really well prepared for. In previous seasons, the first meet was just to get your dives off and feel it out. It’s really nice to have those wins under my belt, and I’m excited to move forward with that.”
Senior Haley Lips won all three of her events after a teammate suffered a concussion and her events were switched to compensate.
She took first in the 200 freestyle, the 200 fly and the 500 freestyle.
“At the beginning of the meet I was a little frazzled, but once I got into warm-up and calmed myself down, I just tried to focus on the race and do the best that I could,” Lips said. “It was a great surprise to win all three — it was not what I expected at all walking in.”
With only a handful of seniors on the team, those who are more experienced will be expected to step up from time to time, Looze said.
“Haley’s a senior, and she’s a captain, and it’s just what they do,” Looze said. “They know what to do when they’re called on, and they have to be flexible. She is like a firewoman. If this room or that room is on fire, then she goes in there and just puts it out.”
With the first meet of the season finished, Looze is looking for big improvements in the next two weeks before IU travels to face Florida and Texas.
“This first meet gave them a good indication of where they stand,” Looze said. “I told them not to pass too much judgment — if it’s not what you want, just to get more dedicated and more determined. If it is what they want, then great, but don’t get a big head about it because we have to perform at a much higher level next time.”
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IU is now 5-13 on the season.