The men’s Big Ten roster defeated the Atlantic Coast Conference 179-174 with the help of strong performances from IU members. As a whole, the IU men took part in two winning relays, had eight individual victories and had four swimmers set the fastest times in the nation in their respective events.
“Our guys really came through to help the conference,” IU Coach Ray Looze said. “They really showed up ready and were better than advertised.”
On the first night of competition, senior Vini Lanza took first in the 100 fly and the 800 freestyle relay. He also won the 800 free relay and the 200 fly Sunday with times of 1:24.46 and 1:42.67 respectively.
“The rest of the Big Ten coaches were super impressed with Vini,” Looze said. “Vini has made an enormous improvement on lockouts and turns, and I’m really seeing that come to fruition.”
Junior Mohamed Samy also joined Lanza in the 800 freestyle relay victory and added two more individual wins in the 200 free relay — which was the quickest time in the nation this season — and the 200 freestyle Sunday.
Looze said Samy’s determination and relentless pursuit of improving on his turns was important for the Big Ten team and IU this season.
“We call Samy ‘the bear’ because he’s as tough as a grizzly bear,” Looze said. “He’s the guy we want at the end of a relay. He’s automatic.”
In his final year, IU senior Zach Apple posted a victory with sophomore Gabriel Fantoni in the 800 free relay with a time of 1:24.46. Apple also was part of the winning 800 freestyle relay with Lanza and Samy, which beat the ACC by less than two seconds.
Additionally, senior Ian Finnerty won the 100 breast for the Big Ten with a time of 51.54 — the fastest in the nation this season for that category.
For the divers, redshirt senior James Connor once again took first in the 3-meter dive with a score of 429.35. That was 28 points above his second place Big Ten teammate.
While Looze himself is the swimming coach, he said that he feels more like a fan than a coach while watching Connor dive.
“James is a stud and has ice running through his veins,” Looze said. “He is really the epitome of what diving is.”
Accompanying James in fifth place was IU sophomore Andrew Capobianco. Looze said that ‘Cap’ is a great model of a serious trainer and a fierce competitor alongside Connor.
With the swim and dive challenge concluded, the team will travel back for the IU Invitational beginning Thursday. IU will compete against Louisville, NC State and Southern Methodist University over a three-day stretch.
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