Although it failed in its goal of winning the Big Ten Championships, the performance put on by the IU women’s team was no disappointment.
After finishing Friday and Saturday’s events, the Hoosiers managed a second place finish at the Big Ten Championships. IU scored 1207.5 points and won a total of 16 medals but lost to Michigan.
“We were the hardest-fighting team out there,” IU Coach Ray Looze said. “Whether we had the numbers or not, we were going to go for it. We put pressure on and we hoped they would crack. Our team represented us well, though. We had that championship mentality.”
This is the eighth consecutive year the women’s team has placed either first or second at Big Tens.
“A lot of us wanted to win,” junior Gia Dalesandro said. “We swam the best we could, and it really was a fight the whole way. We had great sportsmanship, and everyone had the mindset that it’s not over until it’s over.”
In addition to personal bests and setting records, multiple Hoosiers were also named to All-Big Ten teams.
First team All-Big Ten members include sophomore Dalesandro, Marie Chamberlain, sophomore Kennedy Goss, freshman Lilly King, senior Haley Lips and sophomore Grace Vertigans. In addition, sophomore Delaney Barnard and freshman Miranda Tucker were awarded second team All-Big Ten.
King was also named Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Friday’s event finals included a gold medal time of 3:30.17 from the 400 medley relay team of Chamberlain, King, Dalesandro and Goss. Their performance set a new school record, Big Ten meet and conference record and pool record in Ann Arbor, Michigan, at Canham Natatorium.
Relays are one aspect of the meet that always get the team’s energy flowing, King said. They are worth double the amount of points, so winning the relays is a big key.
“The relays are so much fun to be a part of,” Dalesandro said. “It really gets the morale up. It’s a fun and exciting way to start off the meets like that. Winning those are huge.”
Dalesandro also brought home a silver medal in the 100 butterfly. Lips placed third in the 200 freestyle finals, followed by Goss in fifth.
The freshman duo of Tucker and King went on to set more records for the Hoosiers in the 100 breaststroke. In preliminary heats, Tucker set a school record of 59.37, then King topped her with a time of 58.28.
In the 100 breaststroke finals, King and Tucker finished first and second, bringing home gold and silver medals. King’s new record time of 57.35 marks the is also the fastest ever in the Big Te.
After three days of competing, the team’s momentum never slowed down, King said. They kept focus on their goals to overcome mental exhaustion.
“Usually after a couple of days people are ready to finish up and go home,” King said. “This was not one of those meets. Everyone was in it until the very end. We had a weak day to start off so our stronger events at the end really kept us in it.”
The final day of competition finished with Saturday’s event finals in which Goss finished with a silver medal in the 200 backstroke and Dalesandro won gold in the 200 butterfly.
King and Tucker were at it again in the 200 breaststroke, where King won gold with a new school record of 2:05.58, Tucker with the silver medal and a personal best of her own.
Even with her success at Big Tens, King wasn’t fully rested.
“My ultimate goals are set for NCAA finals and Olympic Trials,” she said. “We’ve got a lot more in us. With the second place finish, we’re able to look forward now and have the mentality to swim to win rather than swim not to lose. We’ll be right back into things to set us up to finish strong.”
As the Hoosiers have less than four weeks to prepare for NCAA finals, they are looking to continue moving forward. In his 25 years of coaching, Looze has yet to have a team compete perfectly in a meet.
“Some people kind of look at us as the underdogs,” Dalesandro said. “We take that as a grain of salt, but I think we can accomplish some really cool things. I’m excited to see what we still have left to give.”
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