Hawkeyes head to 2021 Big Ten Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships

Iowa’s men’s swimming and diving team aims to improve upon its sixth-place finish at the event last year.


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

Twenty-four days removed from what will likely be its last regular season meet ever, Iowa men’s swim and dive will head Columbus, Ohio, for its final Big Ten Championship meet.

Iowa’s men’s swim and dive team is slated for discontinuation at the end of the 2020-21 academic year. In total, the Hawkeyes only competed in three regular season meets this season — one of which was an intrasquad meet at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center in Iowa City.

Iowa entered the 2020-21 season ranked 25th in the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) poll.

The Hawkeyes finished the season 1-2, going 1-1 at a January meet with Northwestern and Penn State, and losing outright to Minnesota Feb. 6.

“I don’t know if this year has been more difficult,” sophomore Ryan Purdy said. “Not being able to compete has made things challenging for some of our younger guys, but I’d say it’s just a unique process more than anything.”

All season long, the Hawkeyes have been contending with COVID-19, limited opportunities to compete, and the University of Iowa’s decision to cut men’s swimming and diving at the end of the 2020-21 academic year.

Despite all that, the Hawkeyes have tried to remain focused on the task at hand.

“I think we just have to go out and race,” Purdy said. “That’s what we’ve all been taught to do. That’s always the biggest aspect of competition. Just stay in your lane and do the best that you can. That is really all you can control right now.”

Even with the added distractions, Iowa still has high expectations for the 2021 Big Ten Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships.

“We’re here to race, we’re here to compete, we’re trying to place as high as we can,” Purdy said. “We are trying to place higher than we did last year and that’s the most important part. We got sixth at last year’s Big Tens, so if we can move up a spot, that will be great for us.”

Several Hawkeyes are aiming to both place high at the Big Ten Championships and earn an NCAA Championship bid.

Among the select few is junior Anze Fers Erzen. Fers Erzen was a CSCAA All-American in the 200-back in 2019-20. He also holds school records in the 200-back, the 200-individual medley, and the 400-individual medley.

Fers Erzen has already posted NCAA “B” qualifying times in three events this year.

Junior Aleksey Tarasenko has been the Hawkeyes’ best swimmer in both the 50 and 100-free this season. Tarasenko enters the Big Ten Championships having won both events in his last meet. He placed eighth and 14th, respectively, in those events at the 2020 Big Ten Championships.

The Hawkeyes have also developed a strong scoring duo in the 200 and 500-free. Juniors Andrew Fierke and Mateusz Arndt have placed first and second in each of their four races this year. Arndt has won all four races and recorded the fastest 500-free time the Big Ten has seen this year.

“Individually, I would be happy to qualify for the “A” finals at the Big Ten Championships,” Arndt said Feb. 1. “As a team, I think it would be good if we finished a place higher than we did last season. If we got fifth place, we’d be very excited.”

The 2021 Big Ten Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships begin today at 4 p.m. and wrap up Saturday.

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