Amidst the 25 schools competing in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, 12 Hoosiers will join the 160 swimmers and 40 divers Saturday in occupying the waters of the Morgan J. Burke Aquatic Center in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Before their IU Invitational Nov. 15, eight members of the men’s swim and dive program will travel with five members of the Hoosier women’s team to Purdue to compete alongside other Big Ten schools against the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“As our guys work on their turns and get healthier, they will set a strong example of the excellence and culture we are building here,” IU Coach Ray Looze said.
Representing the undefeated IU men's team are seniors Ian Finnerty, Vini Lanza, Mohamed Samy, Zach Apple and James Connor and sophomores Bruno Blaskovic, Gabriel Fantoni and Andrew Capobianco.
Fantoni and Blaskovic have dominated with a multitude of individual and relay event victories during the team’s 5-0 start. The duo joined Finnerty and Lanza in IU’s previous meet at Texas, achieving the fastest 400m medley relay time in the nation this year in the process.
Samy and Apple also started their final year at IU on a strong note. The two have combined for three individual victories, while playing pivotal roles in six of the team’s medley relay wins this season.
To further stuff the stat sheet for the Big Ten, Connor remains undefeated on both the 1- and 3-meter dives this season. Capobianco has been right behind Connor with impressive scores during the tri-meet home opener and road victories against Texas and Florida.
Additionally, teaming up with IU is last season’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year winner Ricardo Vargas from the University of Michigan. Like Connor, Vargas was in competition at the 2016 Rio Olympic Summer Games and is the Mexican record-holder in several freestyle distances.
For the ACC, the talent includes the three-time NCAA Champion and Male Swimmer of the Year, Andreas Vazaios from NC State. Vazaios currently holds the nation’s fastest 200 individual medley time and has been instrumental to the Wolfpack’s 2-0 start.
Another highlight on the ACC roster is Louisville’s 2018 Freshman of the Year winner, Nicolas Albiero. Albiero’s 200 medley relay and freestyle victories have been a significant factor in the Cardinals’ 2-1 start to the 2018-19 season.
Coaching the ACC for the men’s side will be NC State's Braden Holloway, who will be assisted by Mike Litzinger from Notre Dame. For the men’s Big Ten Conference, IU’s Looze will coach alongside assistant coach Kelly Kremer from Minnesota.
As for the competition itself, roughly 32 events will take place over the course of the weekend. Each individual athlete will be allowed to compete in no more than six events — including the four expected relays. The scoring system will be similar to the stipulations of an NCAA dual meet.
The competition will begin at 5 p.m. Saturday and will continue at 10 a.m. Sunday.