Hawks chip away for success

Competitors+get+set+on+the+diving+blocks+during+a+swim+meet+between+Iowa+and+Michigan+State+inside+the+Campus+Recreation+and+Wellness+Center+Natatorium+on+Thursday%2C+September+8%2C+2017.+The+Hawkeyes+opened+their+100th+season+of+swim+and+dive.+%28Shivansh+Ahuja%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29
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Hawks chip away for success

Competitors get set on the diving blocks during a swim meet between Iowa and Michigan State inside the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center Natatorium on Thursday, September 8, 2017. The Hawkeyes opened their 100th season of swim and dive. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Competitors get set on the diving blocks during a swim meet between Iowa and Michigan State inside the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center Natatorium on Thursday, September 8, 2017. The Hawkeyes opened their 100th season of swim and dive. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Shivansh Ahuja

Competitors get set on the diving blocks during a swim meet between Iowa and Michigan State inside the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center Natatorium on Thursday, September 8, 2017. The Hawkeyes opened their 100th season of swim and dive. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Shivansh Ahuja

Shivansh Ahuja

Competitors get set on the diving blocks during a swim meet between Iowa and Michigan State inside the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center Natatorium on Thursday, September 8, 2017. The Hawkeyes opened their 100th season of swim and dive. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

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With the Big Ten Championship meet on the horizon, both swimmers and divers are sharpening their respective skills to compete with some of the best teams in the nation.

If the Big Tens were tomorrow, three teams would come from the top 25 on the men’s side. Michigan tops everyone at No. 7, followed by Ohio State at No. 16, and Minnesota at No. 24.

Iowa faced Ohio State at the Shamrock Invitational Jan. 26-27. The Buckeyes emerged from the meet with a second-place finish, with Iowa trailing by a wide margin in third.

Despite the result, the experience gained in the competition was bigger than a win as the squad eyes the championship season.

“Some of the teams suited up, which means they’re going all out with the special suits and stuff, and we didn’t do that, so it gave us some confidence to race against that,” head coach Marc Long said. “Ultimately, it’s just racing against talented people who are on some great teams.”

The focus now is on fine-tuning the details that could be the difference between touching in first or second.

Both the mindset — staying loose, getting enough sleep — as well as technical details such as starts, turns, and physical shape all go into training for the championship season.

A big strength for the Hawkeye squad that has been a focus almost all season is the team itself.

“They’ve been able to come together, work hard, and they’ve raised the bar, really, on both sides,” Long said. “I think if you’re going to face one of us, you have to face all of us.”

That team mentality goes a long way in pushing each other through the long season and into the pool for the Big Tens and, potentially, the NCAAs.

“We’re just really hungry,” sophomore Joe Myhre said. “I feel like we’ve been having a pretty good vibe going this entire season just driving forward, and we want to keep that going.”

In the rankings on the women’s side, Michigan comes in at No. 2. Ohio State follows at No. 11, with Minnesota and Wisconsin coming in at No. 18 and No. 19.

For the divers, the latter half of the season has been their most productive, raising the level of confidence going into the most important months of the season.

“As far as what we’re not prepared for, I would like to work them a little harder so we can enjoy a little more of a taper,” diving coach Todd Waikel said. “I think we’ve got a lot more diving in us and I think if we play it right, we’ll get even more of a bounce out of it. But we’re ready to go.”

It isn’t so much about fine-tuning the details in the diving well, but doing what needs to be done ahead of time so the conference meet becomes smoother.

While the team is prepared for the training and the championship season, that doesn’t mean they won’t cherish the time they get to prepare.

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