The theme for IU women's swim and dive team this season is a building culture.
Over the last four years, the IU women’s swim and dive program has moved to a position among the nation’s elite.
“This is a much different team than it was when I came in,” IU senior Lilly King said.
In the 2018-19 season, a Big Ten title and a national crown are certainly within reach — particularly with the conference championships taking place in Bloomington.
“We’ve really been able to get some top recruits to commit and come to IU,” diving Coach Drew Johansen said. “I see our women’s team vying for that top spot, top diving program in the country, just like the men. It would be nice to see that happen, both programs, in the same year.”
Last year, the women’s swim and dive team ranked ninth in the country, and both the swimming and diving sides have top athletes returning to Bloomington this year.
For the swimmers, all conversations start and end with King.
She’s a Big Ten champion, a national champion, an Olympic champion and a world record holder. Her competition in the 2018-19 season is no one but herself as she looks to take down her own personal best times.
In her final season at IU, King will be a leader to the younger swimmers on the team.
“I want to kick butt, and do things I haven’t done before," King said. "Hopefully breaking 56 seconds in the 100 breast stroke, that’s been my goal since freshman year, winning both my events at NCAA's and having a good all-around year.”
The team itself is a relatively young group, with just seven seniors.
Of the freshmen, Christin Rockway may be the most anticipated.
Rockway joins the Hoosiers from Valrico, Florida and has had a strong summer leading to her first season in Bloomington. As students at IU began the 2018 fall semester, Rockway was in Fiji, competing in the Junior Pan Pacific Championships.
In addition, the Hoosiers will be adding another member of the Looze family this season. Mackenzie Looze, the daughter of swimming Coach Ray Looze, joins the IU team as a freshman this season. Looze also competed in the Phillips 66 Nationals.
On the diving side, the Hoosiers will once again be led by senior Jessica Parratto — who is in her sixth year at IU. She was the IU female athlete of the year in 2015, a U.S. Olympian in 2016 and a two-time defending Big Ten champion in the platform dive.
“These six years go by fast,” Parratto said. “I’m going to cherish every moment, and definitely give 110 percent every single time I compete for my girls.”
Johansen also discussed the effect Parratto has had on the IU program.
She has been a key part of turning IU into a national contender, and she has helped the Hoosiers immensely in recruiting. Parratto has given legitimacy to IU as high school divers go through the recruitment process.
It’s an effect King, and now graduated Kennedy Goss, have had on the swimming side. The dominance of those two during their careers in Bloomington has helped the Hoosiers bring in talented classes of freshmen year after year, which will keep the program strong even after King and Parratto leave.
Though for now, the Hoosiers can’t practice in their home pool. As repairs are being conducted on the Olympic-size pool at the Student Recreational Sports Center until October, the Hoosiers will practice at the two outdoor pools on campus.
The start date of the King and Parratto farewell tour is not yet known, as the 2018-19 season schedule is not out. Last season, the Hoosiers didn’t start their season until Oct. 20.
IU will be competing in the ACC/Big Ten challenge at Purdue early in the season before ultimately coming back to Bloomington for the Big Ten championship meet.
The 2018-19 season will mark the end of an era for King and Parratto — both of whom have changed the IU swim and dive program.
They will look to leave Bloomington with a bang.