Hawkeye swim and dive teams prepare for upcoming conference meets

After wrapping up their regular seasons Feb. 6, the Hawkeyes are now focusing on the Big Ten Championship meets that lie ahead.


Shivansh Ahuja

The men’s medley relay is underway during a swim meet at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. The women’s team hosted Nebraska while the men’s team had an intrasquad scrimmage.

Evan Bruner, Sports Reporter

After wrapping up their regular seasons in Minnesota Feb. 6, Iowa’s men’s and women’s swim and dive teams are both preparing for the upcoming Big Ten Championships.

This season, the Hawkeyes will have less-than-normal amounts experience under their belts as the postseason approaches.

Iowa was forced to compete with a reduced schedule because of COVID-19 in 2020-21. The Hawkeye men faced just three opposing teams in two meets, while the Iowa women competed against four different teams across three meets of action.

In 2019-20, the men’s team participated in nine regular season meets, and the women’s squad competed in 14 meets, excluding the postseason.

“The training process for Big Tens is actually very different compared to the rest of the season,” junior Aleksey Tarasenko said. “We are now lifting less and swimming less. We are preparing physically and mentally for the end of this season.”

The 2020-21 Big Ten Championships will likely mark the final conference meet for the Hawkeye men’s swimming and diving team, as Iowa will discontinue its men’s swim and dive program at the end of this academic year.

Despite the program’s impending discontinuation, Tarasenko and the Hawkeyes have still strung some solid times together this season. Tarasenko is one of the several swimmers on the men’s team who has recorded an NCAA “B-cut” time this season.

RELATED: Iowa swim and dive finishes off regular season in Minneapolis

“We knew this season was going to be different, and we’ve just adapted to the situation,” Tarasenko said. “Unfortunately, we only competed in two meets, but I think that was enough for us.”

The women’s team is also changing up its routine of the Big Ten Championships, according to sophomore Aleksandra Olesiak.

“Our training has definitely become more specific,” Olesiak said. “I’m really now just trying to fine-tune my stroke and technique. I’m trying to perfect all of the details before going into the championship season.”

Last year, Olesiak recorded a personal-best time of 2:12.92 in the 200 breast at the Big Ten Championships. Although she is competing in many of the same events this year, she expects a completely different atmosphere at this year’s conference meet.

“I wouldn’t say anything is more difficult,” Olesiak said. “There are just a lot of differences in how the competition is set up, how seating arrangements are, how people warm up and cool down. They restrict the number of people who can warm up per lane. But other than that, the actual competing part of it is really the same.”

Up until Feb. 15, the women’s swim and dive program was also facing extinction at Iowa. The University of Iowa Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Athletics Director Gary Barta announced Monday, however, that women’s swimming and diving will not be discontinued at the end of the 2020-21 academic year. So, this season’s iteration of the Big Ten Championships will not be the Hawkeye women’s last.

UI Athletics’ decision to maintain its women’s swim and dive program comes after a months-long Title IX battle in court with four Iowa women’s swimmers.

The Big Ten Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships will be held Feb. 23-27. The men’s conference diving championships are scheduled for Feb. 25-27, with the swimming championships to follow March 3-6.