The No. 3 IU men’s swimming and diving team repeated as Big Ten champions for the first time since 1985. The Hoosiers captured the title after four days in Minneapolis at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center.
This marks IU’s 26th title in program history, furthering the Hoosiers as the one of the nations best programs.
The championship played out like most of the regular season did, a two-team race between IU and No. 7 Michigan. The margin of error was slim for the Hoosiers as Michigan was close behind and even led going into Friday night.
IU ended up finishing with 1,658 points while the Wolverines had 1,617.5 points. The next closest team was Ohio State with 1,300.5 points, who weren’t even in the same conversation as IU and Michigan.
The star all season long has been senior Blake Pieroni. While Pieroni won the 100 freestyle for the third straight year, it was junior Vini Lanza who was named the Swimmer of the Championships.
Lanza won the award for the second straight season after winning gold in seven events during the four-day Big Ten Championships. The Brazilian won the 100 butterfly, 200 butterfly, 200 IM, 200 medley relay, 400 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay and the 800 freestyle relay.
The past two Big Ten Championships have had three things in common — IU winning the title, Lanza winning Swimmer of the Championships and senior Michael Hixon being named the Diver of the Championships.
Hixon swept the meter diving events, winning both the 1- and 3-meter dives. For Hixon, he was given the honor for the second consecutive season.
Hixon and Lanza, along with six other Hoosiers, were named to the All-Big Ten First-Team. Freshmen Bruno Blaskovic and Gabriel Fantoni, juniors Ian Finnerty and Mohamed Samy, and seniors Ali Khalafalla and Pieroni were the six others.
Blaskovic and Fantoni made up two of the three freshmen to be named to the First-Team.
Despite being named to the First-Team, neither Blaskovic nor Fantoni were named Freshman of the Year. That honor went to Ricardo Vargas of Michigan, who was named to the Second-Team.
Blaskovic placed fourth in the 100 freestyle final and was also part of the team that won the 400 freestyle relay, with Samy, Lanza and Pieroni.
Fellow freshman, Fantoni medaled in the 200 backstroke with a second place finish, just behind teammate Samy, who won gold.
IU was also well represented on the Second-Team as senior Levi Brock, junior James Connor and freshman Nikola Miljenic were all named to the list.
Some of the main differences proved to be Connor and Hixon in the diving as well. Six IU divers combined for 285 points, just around the margin of victory.
One of the divers that made an impact in and out of the pool was Fishers native, senior Cody Coldren. While he did finish 12th in the platform dive, Coldren was named as the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award Honoree for his efforts outside of the pool.
While this Big Ten Championship title is gratifying, the ultimate goal for IU is the NCAA Championships March 21-24.
The NCAA Championships will also be held in Minneapolis at the same pool as the Big Ten Championships.
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