Hawkeyes head to Big Ten Championships

Iowa’s men’s and women’s swim teams will head to West Lafayette, Indiana, to compete this week.


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. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Evan Bruner, Sports Reporter

Just one week after the University of Iowa opted to fully reinstate its women’s swimming and diving program, head coach Marc Long and his squad will head to Purdue to compete in the 2021 Big Ten Championships alongside the men’s diving team.

The men’s and women’s swimming events will begin Tuesday, with the women’s diving competition to follow on Thursday.

The conference’s men’s diving championships will be held March 2-6.

The Hawkeye women started the season with a 170-128 win over Nebraska at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center in Iowa City, but dropped the following three duals against Penn State, Northwestern, and Minnesota.

The Hawkeyes finished ninth at last year’s Big Ten Championships, despite 13 of their women’s swimmers competing in the finals.

While the Iowa women have struggled recently, the future still looks bright with four of their underclassmen ranked in the top ten in their respective events entering the 2021 Big Ten Championships.

One of the Hawkeyes that has made the most of the shortened 2020-21 season is freshman Alyssa Graves, who recorded the second and third-fastest times in program history in the 1,000-free in her first year in the Black and Gold. Graves will enter conference championship season ranked 6th in the Big Ten in the 1,000-free and 10th in the 200-fly.

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“Honestly, I thought the transition [from high school to college] was going to be a lot more difficult,” Graves said Feb. 2. “But having the teammates surrounding me with their positivity and coaches helping us throughout this transition, it has really helped. I think our determination has helped us succeed.”

Another key addition to the Hawkeye women’s roster is Boilermaker transfer Malory Jump. In her first meet as a Hawkeye, Jump recorded a team record in the 100-fly with a time of 53.05. Jump is ranked second in the conference in that event, ahead of teammate Kelsey Drake, who is ranked eighth.

Sophomore Aleksandra Olesiak has been one Iowa’s top contributors this season, as she was part of the 400-medley squad that set a program-record time.

“My goals are to make the top 24 in both of my events, and I want our relay team to break the school record [again],” Olesiak said Feb. 11. “I just want us to score as high as we can as a team, even if we had some setbacks this year.”

Although the NCAA has granted all student-athletes an additional year of eligibility because of COVID-19, this weekend’s competition may still prove to be the swansong for many Hawkeye women’s swimmers. There are currently four seniors on Iowa’s women’s swimming and diving roster. It is unclear how many of them will exercise the extra year of eligibility the NCAA has offered them.

Among the seniors are Drake and Sage Ohlensehlen — two of the women’s swimmers that filed a legal complaint in September alleging that the UI was non-compliant with Title IX of the education amendments of 1972.

The NCAA’s women’s swimming and diving championships will be held March 17-20. The men’s national competition will be held March 24-27.

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