Fifty-one of them are freshmen and sophomores.
“We’re looking to see how the younger swimmers perform,” IU Associate Coach Mike Westphal said. “Our next meet is a travel meet, so we’re really using this meet to set the standard.”
Finishing the 2014 season 12th in the nation, the IU men rank ninth in the preseason top-25 polls, while the women rank 15th after finishing 10th in the NCAA last season.
Westphal said the Hoosiers have set their goals high this season, the men aiming to finish 10th and the women striving for eighth.
“This is the most talented collection of athletes that we’ve had in my 13 years here at IU,” Westphal said.
Redshirt sophomore diver Jessica Parratto won the NCAA National Championship in the platform dive last season, finishing with a score of 367.00 and recording the fifth-best platform diving score in IU women’s history.
On the men’s side, then-true freshman James Connor was victorious in the NCAA Championships as well. He claimed the 3-meter and platform diving titles.
Junior Michael Hixon also won an NCAA title in diving.
IU swimmers took home six Big Ten titles.
“Cincinnati is a well-coached team, which will provide our swimmers a really good first test of our season,” IU Coach Ray Looze said. “We look forward to a spirited meet with the Bearcats.”
The toughest matchup for the Hoosiers, Westphal said, will be the Bearcats’ junior freestyle swimmer Jacqueline Keire, who was named the American Athletic Conference’s Most Outstanding Female Swimmer in 2014.
“She creates our biggest matchup problem,” Westphal said.
Westphal said racing swimmers in events in which they usually do not compete will show their versatility and open up avenues and opportunities to race in bigger meets in the future.
“Some swimmers like it,” Westphal said. “They like to race in something different that they may not have raced in before and compete in events that aren’t always the same.”
Two Hoosier athletes competing Thursday, freshman Lilly King and sophomore Blake Pieroni, were named to the 2015 National Team.
“We’re just looking for a good opportunity to race, see what our young swimmers can do and set a good strategy moving forward,” Westphal said.
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