The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The language of medley swimming

Jerz Twarowski of Iowa races during the third heat of the men’s 200 fly on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015. in the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center. Twarowski finished first with a time of 1:17.04. Iowa won the invitational for the second year in a row. (The Daily Iowan/Brooklynn Kascel)

The Iowa men’s swimming team has a worldly vibe to it this season.

Not that there haven’t often been international swimmers on the team, but the Hawkeyes have not seen this kind of production from their international athletes in quite some time. One event in particular, the 200-medley relay, has reaped the benefit of the global talent.

Redshirt freshman Kenneth Mende of Germany, senior Roman Trussov of Kazakhstan, sophomore Jerzy Twarowski of Poland, and freshman Jack Smith of England make up the relay team for Iowa, the first international quartet for the Hawkeyes in the medley relay for quite some time.
“In the sport of swimming, it isn’t necessarily uncommon to have some international guys,” head coach Marc Long said. “As far as on the relay, though, I know we haven’t had all four in a while.”

Exactly how long has it been? The squad of Mende, Trussov, Twarowski, and Smith has posted a team-best time of 1:26.48 in the medley this year and seem ready to take on the event in the Big Ten Championships.

Long, in his 12th year at Iowa, has never had an all-international 200-medley relay team compete at the Big Tens.

The foursome said they have an unspoken bond among them that they just don’t share with the American swimmers. Not to fault the Stateside swimmers, Smith said, their experiences are naturally going to be different.

“We joke about [our relay team] quite a lot,” he said. “We’re all international, and we think that’s pretty cool. It’s cool because we all kind of have that bond, because we all know it’s different here, and we understand each other in kind of a weird way.”

The four almost didn’t came together as Hawkeyes. While Iowa seemed like the obvious choice for Smith, Mende, and Twarowski, the same cannot be said for Trussov.

If it was not for a snag in the recruiting process, Trussov may be swimming in the SEC or Pac-12 this season.

“I talked to all of the bigger universities like Stanford, Auburn, and Berkeley,” Trussov said. “I was looking at Tennessee and Stanford, but they wouldn’t take me without an SAT score. Iowa called and said they would, so I chose Iowa and took the test after that.”

The foursome has spread its talent to individual events for the Hawkeyes as well, all holding team-best and NCAA “B” qualifying times in numerous events — Trussov in the 100 and 200 breaststroke, Twarowski in the 100 and 200 butterfly, Mende in the 100 and 200 backstroke, and Smith in the 50, 100, and 200 freestyle.

Besides the obvious fact that the quartet can lean on each other in practice and during competition, going through the same, and new, experiences out of the pool has brought them closer together.

“[Having each other] is really helpful,” Mende said. “We have that different relationship between each other. It makes things easier to have these guys here.”

When it comes to how far they can go with the medley, the four swimmers were quite clear with their goal: They intend to be crowned

All-Americans in the event come March at the NCAA Championships, top 16 in the nation.

But above all, the four swimmers are happy for the opportunity they have at Iowa and with each other.

“It’s always a lot of fun,” Twarowski said. “I love swimming with these guys.”

Follow @B_Dows4 for Iowa swimming news, updates, and analysis.

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