Iowa swimming and diving sends three swimmers to try to qualify in NCAA B-cuts

Kennedy Gilbertson, Alix O’Brien, and Scarlet Martin are heading to West Lafayette, Indiana, to attempt to improve their times ahead of the NCAA Championships.


Jenna Galligan

Iowa’s Kennedy Gilbertson competes in the 200-yard freestyle during a swim meet against the University of Northern Iowa at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. Gilbertson won the event with a time of 1:53.92. The Panthers defeated the Hawkeyes, 159-133.

Jake Olson, Sports Reporter

Hawkeye swimmers Kennedy Gilbertson, Alix O’Brien, and Scarlet Martin will travel to West Lafayette, Indiana, this weekend to try and improve their B-cut event times ahead of next month’s NCAA Championships.

“It’s what we call a last-chance meet,” head coach Nathan Mundt said. “This is the end of the qualifying period for the NCAA Championships. The very last weekend we have to post times to qualify. We are taking a few individuals that we think are in the range of that.”

A B-cut time is one that is in consideration to qualify for the NCAA Championships in Knoxville, Tennessee, on March 15-18.

Gilbertson is looking to improve on her B-cut time of 53.66 seconds in the 100-meter backstroke while Martin wants to boost her 53.45-second time in the 100-meter fly.

To automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships, both Gilbertson and Martin will need to swim an A-cut time, which is 50.89 seconds in the 100-meter backstroke and 50.92 seconds in the 100-meter fly.

“I am super excited to race this weekend,” Gilbertson said. “I didn’t have the best Big Tens, so I’m trying to stay positive. Hopefully, I can have another weekend staying healthy and improve my times a little more. Really excited to swim with some of my closest teammates.”

O’Brien will also be traveling with the team on Saturday. The Denison University transfer is looking to shave some seconds off her season-best 4:54.15 in the 500-meter freestyle. To be considered for the NCAA Championships, O’Brien will need to make the NCAA B-cut time of 4:47.20.

“We are trying to just better some times that we had last weekend at Big Ten Championships,” Mundt said. “Hopefully we can build off of some performances we had and take a shot at making it.”

The event will start on Feb. 25 at the Morgan J. Burke Aquatic Center. Preliminary events will kick off at 10 a.m, and the finals will begin at 4 p.m.

Last time out

After swimming for four straight days, the Iowa swimming and diving team finished 12th in Big Ten Championships with a score of 198.

The Hawkeyes came away with a couple of personal bests over the four-day period. Freshman Sabina Kupcova earned a top seven time in program history with a 2:02.06 in the 200-meter individual medley.

Freshman pair Emily Wooden and Olivia Asay also earned personal bests. Wooden swam her best 50-meter freestyle in preliminaries on day two with a time of 25.01 seconds. On day four, Asay got a 2:07.90 in her 200-meter fly.

“It was great to experience that level of competition,” Mundt said. “I think we learned a lot about what we need to do to continue to prepare for that peak performance. Now we can look and grow from this experience.”

Season wraps up

Other than Gilbertson, Martin, and O’Brien, the Hawkeye swimmers finished their 2022-23 season at the Big Ten Championships.

Two years after the program was reinstated, 15 of the 22 athletes on the 2022-23 roster were underclassmen.

“Really proud of all of them coming together,” Mundt said. “We are still young. We just completed the freshman season for a lot of these swimmers and divers. I think now we have a better understanding of what we have to do going forward.”