Feb. 19, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A year after bursting onto the scene and earning 2012 Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, University of Iowa sophomore Becky Stoughton is glad to be able to lean on her conference championship experience.
"I know what to expect since I have been through it," said Stoughton, an honorable mention All-American in 2012. "With that being said, I am still nervous, but I don't have that freshman mentality. I know how the game is played, and I am going to try and take that into the championship."
Stoughton broke through at her first Big Ten Championships, finishing with 44 individual points and posting four school records en route to becoming the first Hawkeye to earn the Big Ten Freshman of the Year honor. She reset the record in the 200 free (1:47.29) during the opening leg of the 800 free relay, while also posting top times in the 1,650 free (16:14.14), 400 IM (4:12.34) and 500 free (4:40.82).
The Peoria, Ill., native enters her second go-round with four top-nine times in the Big Ten this season. She has posted the second-fastest time in the 500 free (4:43.20), fourth-best in the 1,650 free (16:22.42), seventh-best in the 1,000 free (9:57.58) and the ninth-fastest time in the 200 fly (1:59.68).
"I know how the game is played, and I am going to try and take that into the championship."
UI sophomore Becky Stoughton
While the times are a barometer of where she sits heading into the championship season, Stoughton doesn't put much stock into them.
"You can't really look at the times from midseason," she said. "It's tricky because a lot of the times that are posted midseason aren't really accurate; they aren't as good as they could be. They (competitors) really step it up and bring it out at Big Tens."
UI head coach Marc Long says Stoughton's next step is to contend for Big Ten titles, while preparing for NCAA Championship competition.
"She is still in such a growth phase that it is exciting for her to be in the finals and contending for titles is kind of the next step," said UI head coach Marc Long. "It's not any more pressure than last year. She is a great racer, and she'll take advantage of the opportunity to race."
Long says the biggest thing for Stoughton and the entire Iowa roster is to be ready to from the start to put themselves in a position to make a second swim to score team points.
"You open with a start list and the top eight come back in finals, then 9-16 are in consolations... that's it," he said. "You have to step up and be ready to race.
"Becky is talented and can do about anything she sets her mind to. She's prepared to race."
The 2013 Big Ten Championships will be held Feb. 20-23 at the University Aquatic Center in Minneapolis. Prelims are scheduled for 11 a.m. (CT) each day followed by event finals at 6:30 p.m. The University of Minnesota will stream the event for free on gophersports.com.
"I am really excited for the team atmosphere and to be with everyone at the championship," said Stoughton. "Everyone is really excited, and we can't wait to see how everyone does."