Ian Finnerty Fuels Indiana’s Final Stretch

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

When Ian Finnerty was in high school at Bloomington South, he had two goals, and one was a little loftier than the other.

The first was to swim for his hometown Indiana Hoosiers, which was not a stretch, given the fact that he was a high school All-American in multiple events.

But an even bigger goal was in the back of Finnerty’s mind in high school.

He wanted to be the first person to ever break 50 seconds in the 100-yard breaststroke.

Last year, as a junior, Finnerty broke that barrier, winning the NCAA championship in 49.69.

“It was just exciting,” Finnerty told Swimming World. “I was really trying to go under 50.0. That was a goal of mine. It was a goal of mine since high school. To be the first person under 50 — it was stunning for me. It was just putting together all the different techniques I worked on throughout the season. I knew what I could do before I stepped up on the block.”

It was one of those swims that wiped all of the record books clean: American, NCAA, U.S. Open, Big Ten, school and pool records.

Those moments are rare.

Finnerty also won the 200 breast in 1:50.17. It erased a couple of records, the Big Ten, school and pool marks.

“That has definitely been a focus for this year, improving the 200. I had not had 200 success in the past couple of years. I knew I had to get in front of those guys. I knew (Andrew) Seliskar would be coming back in the back half of that race,” Finnerty said. “The 100 feels so much more natural to me. I have swam it in every dual meet I have ever swam in. The 200 is more about focusing about certain things, which I am thinking about going up on the block.

“It came together with staying healthy and staying consistent. Freshman and sophomore year I wasn’t as consistent as I could have been. Junior year I kind of hunkered down and that experienced helped me this year.”

Finnerty has the second-fastest 100 breast in the country going into Big Tens at 51.22, behind USC’s Carsten Vissering (50.88). Finnerty is at 1:56.23 in the 200 breast.

Finnerty is looking forward to trying to defend his titles, but the bigger excitement comes in the final two meets as a team.

The Hoosiers are looking to hold off Michigan at the Big Ten Championships, in what has become one of the greatest rivalries in the country.

“I think it more exciting than the NCAA meet form an atmosphere perspective. It feels more like a dual meet than a championship meet. That adds a lot of excitement,” he said. “Having Michigan as a rival has been really great. It is just a good set up. You don’t come down as much for Big Tens, but its nice to get a race setting like that before NCAAs.”


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Last year, beating Michigan gave the Hoosiers some momentum going into the NCAA Championships. Indiana was looking for a top five finish, but the Hoosiers swam so well, they were locked in a three-team title hunt with Texas and Cal, all three in the race going into the final day.

“It was exciting. You had guys swim the best races they have ever swum. It was fuel for the rest of the team. We expected to do well and I would love to see another three-team race,” Finnerty said. “Last year, we were pretty confident in our abilities and that holds true to that this year, too.”

It was almost a dream season for Finnerty, who is competing for his hometown school.

“It has been really great. I trained around the area when I was in high school. Seeing some of the people go to IU and do well, was great, It is nice seeing all of these Indiana swimmers trying to make the IU program better. It feels good to be a part of something bigger. We all want to win big tens and fight again in NCAAs and make it a three-team race, coming down to the last race again.

“I am trying to take in all the great moments that college swimming has.”

Check out more Big Ten coverage here.

1 comment

  1. avatar

    Like to see a yards race with some of the World Cup men doing 56 seconds for 100 SCM, and Ian.

    Love to see Ian break 49 seconds now, takes a huge first 50 and a great finish.