Iowa State swim and dive team aims for second at Big 12s


Emily Blobaum/Iowa State Daily

Haley Rugemer, freshman, swims the 500 freestyle during the meet against the University of Illinois. Ruegemer finished the event in third place with a time of 5:09.42.

Rachel Given

Because Texas is so far ahead of the rest of the conference, the Iowa State swim and dive team will head into the Big 12 Conference Championships on Wednesday seeking to be the best of the rest.

The Cyclones ended their regular season with a loss against Big 12 rival Kansas on Feb. 4. That was more than two weeks ago, and now the team faces its biggest event until this point of the season.

“We just tell [the team], ‘Hey, the men’s basketball team stinks it up every once in a while too,'” head swim coach Duane Sorenson said. “We’re allowed to do that.”

While beating the Longhorns is out of the question, placing second would be taken as a win. 

“Because Texas is so far ahead of both Kansas and us … [beating] TCU, West Virginia and Kansas feels like winning the Big 12 Championships,” Sorenson said. 

The winner of Iowa State’s meet against West Virginia in the regular season was decided by the last event, with the Cyclones winning 153-147. Against TCU, the Cyclones had to settle for a tie. 

And despite the loss earlier this month, Sorenson said the Jayhawks are “very beatable.”

Sorenson said historically, the Jayhawks always look over their shoulder during the race and focus on the past. But he tells his team to look at the current situation at hand.

“The past has nothing to do with the outcome of this meet, so we’re going into this race with some fresh eyes on some fresh competitors,” sophomore Haley Ruegemer said. “Who’s gonna show up?”

The conference championship is split into a three-day, seven-session event. Sorenson said the game plan for the Cyclones is to take each session one at a time.

“If a team has a bad session, they’re going to take themselves right out of the meet,” Sorenson said.

After a season full of close meets, racing down to the last relay is not uncommon for the Cyclones.

“We’ve been through those in close races, so we know what the pressure is and to perform under pressure,” Sorenson said.

Sorenson said the Cyclones historically do well in the breaststroke races but he said to now look out for their sprint races, such as the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle.

“We have a lot of experience in those races and we have a lot of pride in our team to do well,” Sorenson said.

Collectively, the Cyclones believe support is one of the team’s strengths. Assistant head coach Kelly Nordell creates sayings each year that the team yells during races. Grit is the main word the Cyclones have lived by this year. 

“Integrity is our word for this year, and it has grit in it,” Ruegemer said. “To be gritty, you really have to dig down deep. It’s basically putting others before yourself to get the job done. You gotta get tough.”