Cyclone swim and dive set to compete in Big 12 Championships


Daniel Jacobi II

An Iowa State swimmer bobs up above the water during her breaststroke race against UNI and West Virginia in Beyer Hall on Jan. 21, 2023.

Although the Iowa State swim and dive regular season ended Feb. 3 with a 174-126 road loss to the Kansas Jayhawks, the Cyclones are ready to begin postseason competition at the Big 12 Championships.

Iowa State competed to a 6-3 record during the regular season, which included wins in what head coach Duane Sorenson referred to as “championship level meets” against in-state rival Iowa, as well as an impressive victory in the Kansas Classic.

Iowa State went 1-2 in duals against Big 12 opponents, with the losses coming from Kansas and West Virginia and a win against TCU in Fort Worth.

Swimmers Sophia Goushchina and Ashley Bengtson acknowledged their goal all season has been to be better than they were last year, and that the team has a stronger mindset going into the Big 12 championships this time around.

“Last year we got caught up in what other teams were doing, and I think it affected how we were swimming,” Bengston said. “This year we have our blinders on.”

Now, Iowa State is looking to improve on back-to-back fifth-place finishes at the Big 12 Championships and the team is feeling confident heading into the big week.

“This year we’re looking to go into the meet as a unit, rather than focusing on the competition,” Goushchina said.

The swimmers also acknowledged that the competition seems to be very even this year and that they are excited to see how the teams will stack up at the end.

Sorenson shares a lot of the same feelings as his swimmers, saying the team seems to have a better mindset going into this competition.

“The team put a lot of pressure on themselves to compete at a high level,” Sorenson said. “They weren’t relaxed or having fun. This year we’re trying to keep the same intensity, but I want us to enjoy it more.”

If the Cyclones can get over the mental hurdles they faced last year, Sorenson is confident that his team will finish much improved in 2023.

“We’re swimming faster than what we were the year before, so now we can keep it together and go in with a lot of confidence, which they are swimming with a lot of confidence right now, so we’re feeling pretty optimistic about the championship meet,” Sorenson said.

Though knocking off the Texas Longhorns might be a tall task for anyone in the Big 12 after their ten consecutive Big 12 Championship wins, Sorenson thinks the race for second through fifth will come down to the wire, emphasizing that the small details will be the difference on who will finish higher in the standings.

“We’ve put ourselves in a position to finish as high as second, but Kansas, West Virginia, TCU and ourselves could be mirrors of each other,” Sorenson said. “We all have strengths and weaknesses that kind of average out. Who gets the touch-outs, who gets to the finals, who finds their way into the top-16 will be the big difference.”

The Cyclones have made their way to Austin, Texas, with the competition set to start at 10 a.m. Wednesday with time trials.

Swimming and diving will continue to take place all day Wednesday through Saturday. Preliminaries and finals will be aired on Big 12 Now through ESPN+.