Big Ten Weekly Preview: Iowa Returns With Big Week

Photo Courtesy: University of Iowa Swim Camp

It is going to be a busy week back for the Iowa Hawkeyes.

As teams return from winter break and get back into the water for competition in the Big Ten, the Iowa Hawkeyes have one of their biggest weeks of the entire season on the docket.

The Hawkeyes will compete at Illinois on Friday in a women’s competition, then the men and women will compete Saturday, hosting Notre Dame.

Iowa is coming off of a training trip in Sarasota, Florida, something the team does every year.

The training and team bonding that happened at the trip have the Hawkeyes relaxed and ready to kick off the stretch run of the season, leading up to the Big Ten Championships.

“It started coming up in conversations after Thanksgiving,” said Kelsey Drake, a sophomore from Marion, Iowa. “It’s such a fun thing for our team. It’s something we look forward to. This time of the year is critical in swimming. I know a lot of people, when we go home, this is the peak of our training. It helps to be able to build up our aerobic capacity in Florida and carry that throughout winter break.

“When we get back, it becomes fine-tuning, going fast in the water, and getting ready for Big Tens and NCAAs.”

The Hawkeyes left behind the stresses of finals week for a seven-day period focused on training and team unity.

“One of the biggest benefits is getting out of your routine and comfort zone,” said senior Kenneth Mende. “I love swimming outside because it always gives me that little extra boost.”

“We are able to really focus on training and getting better (on this training trip),” said Drake. “It is easy at home to get distracted with other things that are going on. Down here there aren’t many distractions so we can focus, get down to it, and swim fast when we’re here.”

Mende says the in-water workouts are a grind, but the scenery helps the team push through.

“This is a nice opportunity we have been given to challenge ourselves, enjoy the scenery, while pushing ourselves to the limits,” said Mende. “The sun gives us the last little push. It’s easier to do when it’s nice outside.”

On Friday, Purdue swims at Michigan State.

On Saturday, Nebraska competes at Omaha, Minnesota swims at Hawaii and Penn State swims at Navy for a tri-meet with North Carolina.

On Friday-Saturday, Rutgers will host Princeton and Villanova for a two-day meet.