Ryan Adams/The Daily Iowan
Hosting the Big Ten Championships is an honor, and the Iowa men’s swimming & diving team had the privilege to welcome the other Big Ten schools to the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center on Feb. 27-March 2.
This wasn’t the first time a conference tournament has been on campus; Campus Rec hosted the meet in 2015 as well.
Holding the Big Ten Championships not only gives the university some pride, it helps give the senior swimmers on the men’s team a terrific way to finish their careers.
“Words can’t describe it. I feel like this is the perfect cap on a senior year because you got your home meet, and we’re all about representing the Black and Gold,” senior Tanner Nelson said. “I know we weren’t really 100 percent thrilled about how we finished, but I was excited about leaving it all in the pool one last time. I mean, we had it a few years ago here, and I was like, ‘It would be so cool,’ and all of the sudden I heard last year, this is amazing, that I get to finish my last race here.”
The meet is a special thing, and it’s a great way to bring more opportunities to the athletes and the campus.
With opportunity also comes anxiety, because of the Big Ten’s standing in the swimming and diving world.
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“Being at home, I think, sometimes provided a little extra anxiety for some with everything going on, and once they settled in, they started tearing it up,” head coach Marc Long said. “Some of these ‘A’ finals are harder to make in the Big Ten ‘A’ final than NCAAs just a couple years ago. These are just world-class ‘A’ finals … NCAAs is obviously where you want to be, but the Big Ten conference is special because it really holds the integrity of its conference meet. It’s not just a qualifying meet.”
These opportunities would not happen without an amazing event staff, and Iowa had that. With a championship in a conference such as the Big Ten, a lot of work is needed to make sure things run smoothly. The event staff stayed on top of things all week to help Iowa put on a solid tournament.
“I do want to give a shout out to this facility, and when you host a championship like this, there are a lot of nice facilities in the country, but it’s going to be about the people and how well they can manage it,” Long said. “I will say, top to bottom, our athletics staff and recreation staff do a tremendous job here. They really run the meat and potatoes of the timing systems, the fit and finish, and you’re not going to find a garbage can that is overflowing.”
While it’s a great opportunity to host a conference tournament once, the Hawkeyes will do it again in the near future, with the Big Ten Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships in 2020 and NCAAs in 2021.
“We do have the women’s meet next year, we have a lot of freshmen coming in, so we’re really excited about that meet,” Long said. “We have NCAA in ’21, that’s a meet we shut the whole facility down. You know, it’s a fast pool, they like coming here. But again, it’s the people.”