Harris, Nelson lead team at conference championships


Photo: David Derong/Iowa State Daily

Danielle Harris fights for first place during the Iowa State – Nebraska meet Saturday, Jan. 29 at Beyer Hall.

Nate Ryan

The ISU swimming and diving team finished sixth at the Big 12 Championships on Feb. 23 to 26, and the team had consistent efforts from a couple of key contributors. 

Dani Harris led the swimming side for the Cyclones. Harris contributed 67 of the team’s 176 points. 

“She was just consistent in all her events,” said coach Duane Sorenson.

Harris finished a little faster in each of her individual events in the finals. Sorenson said the coaches talked with Harris about making small corrections before each final swim. 

“It’s almost like she tried too hard in prelims,” Sorenson said. “Then she swam a little more relaxed and controlled, and swam a lot faster in finals.”

Making those corrections for a later swim didn’t come easy for Harris.

“I’m more of a morning swimmer,” Harris said. “It was definitely harder to stay consistent coming back at night.”

Sorenson said this year’s team finish was a result of lacking that outstanding swimmer the team has had in the past. Last year that role was held by seniors Nan Liu and Abby Glaser.

Sorenson believes Harris can step into that role.

“Dani is right on the cusp of becoming a championship level swimmer,” Sorenson said. “She just needs to clean up a lot of little mistakes that she makes.”

Harris finished the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 1:57.53, earning her 12th place in the event and five points for the team. The finish was just eight one-hundredths of a second from being the new school record in the event. 

“It was really frustrating to be that close,” Harris said. 

On the diving side, the Cyclones were led by Sarah Nelson.  

“I thought it was great experience,” Nelson said. “I really pulled the elements that I was working on in practice together in the competition.”

Nelson’s first dive came on 3-meter, and she scored 271.65, earning her 12th place. It was Nelson’s second-best career score in the event. 

“She was just a little bit off her personal best,” said assistant coach Jeff Warrick. “To do that in a Big 12 Championship is a big deal.”

Nelson ended the weekend with the platform dive. Warrick said he was anticipating watching Nelson dive her back two and half dive on the platform. 

“It’s a big, pivotal dive for her, and it’s a hard dive,” Warrick said. “She just really nailed it, and that was exciting to see.”

Nelson’s finish was just out of reach from qualifying for the finals of the platform dive.

“It really just fuels me for next year,” Nelson said.

Warrick thinks the team can expect big things from Nelson in her senior season. 

“She’s going to see that she can compete with these elite divers,” Warrick said. “She’s going to have an exciting senior year.”