Cyclones sweep full weekend of swimming, diving


Photo: Tim Reuter/Iowa State Dai

The ISU swimming and diving team take off the starting blocks to take part in the women’s 100-yard freestyle competition on Saturday, Oct. 30. Iowa State beat South Dakota State with a score of 152-83, as well as Western Illinois with a score of 161-48.

Nate Ryan

It was yet another exciting weekend for the ISU swimming and diving team. The Cyclones took care of South Dakota 165-125 on Friday night and had the same result Saturday, defeating South Dakota State 152-83 and Western Illinois 161-48.  

Coach Duane Sorenson was pleased with the weekend.  

“We’re just competing really well,” Sorenson said. “We did a really nice job from our top swimmers to our newer and younger swimmers.”

The weekend gave diving coach Jeff Warrick confirmation about his divers’ abilities.

“I think any of my divers can step up and be at a really high level,” Warrick said. “If they keep working hard and pushing each other, I think we haven’t even seen the top yet.” 

On Friday, swimmer Dani Harris led the Cyclones. Harris led off the night by beginning the 200-yard medley relay and helping the Cyclones take first along with teammates Jeli Nixt, Elena Carvell and Katie Vollhaber.

“I’m really working this year on not being defeated before I get to the pool,” Harris said.  

Harris also took first in the 100-yard backstroke (57.93). Harris swam the 400-yard individual medley for her first time at Iowa State, taking first place (4:36.62). She credited her performance to coaches Kelly Nordell and Sorenson.  

“Kelly’s an excellent distance coach,” Harris said. “Her practices and Duane’s technique work has really helped me.”

Nixt was followed closely by teammates Marley Suckow (1:07.99) and Lindsey Frodyma (108.32).

Jenny Vondenkamp was another who stood out, finishing with her season-best time in the 500-yard freestyle (5:08.61).

Success continued in the diving pool Friday night. Abby Christensen scored a 261.82 and a first-place finish in the 1-meter, and teammate Lauren Naeve took first in the 3-meter (265.70).  

Jessica Nicholson was mentioned earlier in the week by Warrick as a diver that he is looking for to break out soon. Nicholson scored her personal best on the 1-meter (254.91).

“I think with a little bit more competition and working on that consistency part, she’s going to blow away her score,” Warrick said.

Saturday brought South Dakota State and Western Illinois to Beyer pool. Vondenkamp picked up where she left off the night before.

Vondenkamp raced in what would become one of the day’s most exciting races, the 1,000-yard freestyle. She also competed in the 500-yard freestyle. She took first in both with times of 10:27.56 and 5:10.12.  

She was challenged by SDSU’s Andee Budahl, who led the 1,000-yard freestyle for 800 yards.  

“Jenny knew where she was and what she needed to do,” Sorenson said. “She really put the hammer down at the 800-yard mark and pulled away.”

Vondenkamp knew the 1,000 would push her mentally and physically, and she was glad Budahl was swimming with her.

“I had a good person to race,” Vondenkamp said. “She pushed me the entire way.”

Elena Carvell also swam strong Saturday. Carvell finished first in the 100-yard butterfly (58.16). Carvell swam third in the 400-yard medley relay and led off the 400-yard freestyle relay. Both relays took first.

“Elena is a fun person to watch and coach,” Sorenson said. “She’s a very talented young lady.” 

Carvell has been focused on her stroke and mentality in the pool.

“I know I have the strength to finish my races, but sometimes my stroke isn’t efficient,” Carvell said.  

Carvell said she feels nervous when leading off relays and handles it better if she’s third.

“I like to set it up for the last person to finish it off,” Carvell said.

Carvell had the flu since Wednesday, which left her with a battle when swimming the relays.  

“I’m starting to feel kind of tired, and I didn’t attack it the way I should have,” Carvell said.  

The Cyclones wrapped up Saturday with an exciting second heat of the 400-yard freestyle relay. Iowa State was anchored by freshman Alex Gustafson and junior Meredith Doran in lanes two and five.

The Cyclones switched their relay teams Saturday to see if Gustafson and Doran could handle the pressure when “put under the gun,” Sorenson said.

The coaches couldn’t have been happier with the results.

“It turned out better than what we dreamed,” Sorenson said. “They both just swam extremely well and really finished their last length like champions.”

Saturday’s diving brought success for Sarah Nelson. Nelson took first in both the 1-meter and 3-meter. She scored a 254.65 in 1-meter and a personal best on 3-meter with a score of 276.05.

“Competing last night, I came back to the pool today really focusing on the changes I needed to make,” Nelson said.

Nelson still has improvements to make on her personal list.

“I really need to focus on being consistent with my entries and focus on being sharp,” Nelson said. 

Warrick was excited to see the results Sarah produced.

“She did a great job of being prepared,” Warrick said. “Obviously her consistency was there, and her training is coming through.”

The Cyclones have some time off before they host Northern Iowa on Nov. 10.