Hawkeyes Aim High at NCAAs
March 22, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Five University of Iowa men's swimmers punched their NCAA Championship tickets during the 2012 Big Ten Championships. Now the Hawkeyes are looking to produce on the biggest collegiate stage.
Seniors Paul Gordon, Duncan Partridge and Ryan Phelan along with junior Jordan Huff and sophomore Gianni Sesto begin competition today at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Wash.
"We got our ticket to the meet, now we want to go there and score," said UI head coach Marc Long. "We have to go and compete well and get a second swim. That's what we want to do with everybody."
Gordon, Huff, Partridge and Phelan will be looking for their second straight All-America honor, as the quartet earned the distinction a season ago in the 400 freestyle relay after finishing 15th in 2:54.82.
Long says the student-athletes bring confidence with them to the Pacific Northwest after winning a pair of relays at the 2012 Big Ten Championships -- the first relay titles for the Hawkeyes in 17 years.
"The core of this group has been together for a number of years," said Long. "Four of the five guys were at the NCAAs last year and the confidence helps. A Big Ten title shows their racing ability, but it's a whole different ball game at the NCAAs."
The Iowa 200 freestyle relay consisting of Gordon, Partridge, Phelan and Sesto have the seventh fastest time in the nation this season at 1:17.61, while the 400 freestyle relay of Gordon, Huff, Partridge and Phelan also have the seventh best time at 2:52.53.
"When you look at the sprint relays, it's really a game of hundredths and tenths of a second," said Long. "It's a matter of stepping up and being sharp during the morning prelims. I don't know how it's going to pan out. I just know that we have a group of racers that are going to step up, be ready and give it their best shot."
Long says the team has been training with the NCAAs on its mind throughout the season.
"Last year our goal was to make the meet and come back (for finals)," said Long. "This year, we've been training to come back and score higher by trying to beat the person swimming next to you."
Along with competing in the relays, Phelan will swim in the 50 freestyle on Thursday and Gordon in the 200 free on Friday. Phelan currently has the 13th fastest time nationally in the 50-free (19.52).
The 200 freestyle relay will be the first event of the Championship on Thursday, and the 400 free relay will be contested on Saturday.
"We have a group that is getting ready to give it its best shot," said Long. "We have expectations that we want to be scoring big points at this meet now and in the future."
Both sessions Thursday and the preliminary sessions on Friday and Saturday will be streamed for FREE at GoSeattleU.com. The finals sessions on Friday and Saturday will be streamed live on ESPN3.com.