College Swimming Previews: #12 Indiana Men Building On Young Team

Key Additions: Ian Finnerty (IN – Everything), Matthew Anderson (TX – Distance Free), James Beckman (IN – Sprint Back/Fly/Free), Jack Collins (NY – Distance Free), Adam DeStrampe (IN – Free), Joseph Lane (NH – Back), Vini Lanza* (Brazil – Fly)

*Second Semester

Key Losses: Mike Hurley (Ind. NCAA Qualifier), Steve Schmuhl (Ind. NCAA Qualifier, 1 scoring relay), Yianni Thermos (2nd Team All-B1G)

2014-2015 Lookback:

The Hoosiers concluded their 2014-2015 season with a 12th place finish at the NCAA Championships in Iowa City and was the second best team within the Big Ten Conference. Last year the team was aided by a huge transfer from the 2014 NCAA Diver of the Year, Michael Hixon. Hixon and James Connor teamed up, earning 78 points between the two of them in the diving events.

The only swimmer to score individually last year was freshman Blake Pieroni. Pieroni had the fastest time in the country in the 100 freestyle coming into his freshman year, and didn’t disappoint this year. He posted the fastest short course yard 200 freestyle of the year prior to NCAA championships with a 1:33.10 and finished fourth in Iowa City with a 1:33.29. He also led their 400 and 800 freestyle relays to 14th and 5th place finishes, respectively.

Although they finished 12th as a team, finishing just outside of the B final in multiple relays at the NCAA Championships prevented them from finishing higher in the team standings. Improving their relays for the 2016-2016 season will be key.

The team finished third at the Big Ten Championships in Iowa City, putting nine swimmers on the Big Ten’s first or second All-Big Ten team. James Connor earned the Big Ten Diver of the Championships Award and Blake Pieroni earned the C0-Big Ten Freshman of the Year award.

Other Key Swimmers/Divers:

  • Ali Khalafalla – As a freshman, Khalafalla earned All-Big Ten honors in the 50 freestyle with a 19.46 and was a major contributor to the scoring freestyle relays at the NCAA Championships.
  • Tanner Kurz – Kurz was invited to swim the 200 breaststroke at the NCAA Championships and also earned All-Big Ten honors with a second place finish in the same event with a 1:54.23. He will be a senior this year.
  • Steve Schmuhl – Schmuhl earned All-Big Ten honors in the 400 IM and also qualified the NCAA Championships. He will be the biggest loss for the Hoosiers this season, but it could be much worse . The only points he scored at the NCAA Championships came from the 800 freestyle relay.
  • Anze Tavcar – Tavcar qualified for the NCAA Championships with a sub 43 100 yard freestyle. He also played a large roll in the two scoring freestyle relays at the NCAA Championships.
  • Jackson Miller – Miller was one of only three Indiana swimmers to qualify for multiple events at NCAA’s. He qualified in both the 500 freestyle (4:16.09) and 200 freestyle (1:34.50).

2015’s Relay Trouble:

Luckily, only one graduating senior scored points at the NCAA Championships last year, and that was in a relay. The relay’s were not the strongest for Indiana last year, and that will need to be a focal point for them this season. Only the 400 and 800 freestyle relays scored at the NCAA Championships. Of the three relays that failed to advance to finals, two of the relays (400 medley and 200 freestyle) finished 17th in prelims and the 200 medley relay finished 19th.

Diving:

Diving is a major strength for the Hoosiers, and that won’t be changing any time soon. They are returning 78 points between James Connor and Michael Hixon. There are several other members that have the potential to score at the NCAA Championships at the end of the year, so they have the potential to be more dominant if they get more divers out of the zone championships this year.

Freestyle Stronghold: 

Coach Ray Looze recruited a large group of distance freestylers that will have the honor of working with the great Jeff Kostoff. Indiana has done very well with their female distance swimmers, and appear to be building a solid distance freestyle group on the men’s team as well.

Blake Pieroni, Anze Tavcar, and Ali Khalafalla were consistent sprinters all season and will be the anchors of the team going into the new season.

2015-2016 Outlook:

The Hoosiers will be a very young team this year with 13 incoming freshman, especially after bringing in 16 freshman for the 2014-2015 season. Head Coach Ray Looze brought in another large freshman class and is hoping to build off of their 12th place finish at the NCAA Championships last season.

Because they didn’t lose much from their relays, they will be better suited to final in all five relays this year. which is very important when competing for position within the top 12 and the NCAA Championships.

They will also have a challenging dual meet schedule to prepare themselves for the NCAA Championships and the big summer afterwards. Their first big meet of the season is a tri-dual meet with Florida and Texas in Austin. Following that meet, they will be busy with Tennessee, Kentucky, UNC, Auburn, and Big Ten rival Wisconsin.

The second half of the season is a little lighter, but they will have the opportunity to race in Georgia Tech’s pool against Tech, Michigan, and Alabama before crossing the river to compete against Louisville in their final dual meet.

Even though they are a very young team, they are building and have the potential to move into the top 10 this year at the NCAA Championships. Don’t count them out if they don’t make huge improvements this year either, because this is a team young enough to continue to climb over the next two to three years.

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ctweymou

You failed to mention the freshman addition of Janus Saltans from Latvia. Swim Swam even published an article about his verbal commitment back in February. Do you know something others don’t. Hopefully he will still be a Hoosier next year as he contributes much needed backstroke and fly help, of which the Hoosiers are weak.

BobLeeSwaggy

Janus did not make it to Bloomington this fall. Maybe for the spring? Guess we will see

ctweymou

Why the dislike on my comment? Just a comment inquiring about Janis Saltans (who allegedly signed with IU according to SwimSwam).

I hope he arrives for the spring in time for Big Tens and NCAAs as I think he will really help in the backstroke events.

ctweymou

Bobleeswaggy, that reply was not geared towards you necessarily. I don’t know who gave me a thumbs down for pointing out a perceived omission from the article.

I hope Janis makes it to IU sooner than later!

Joe Schroeder

Coach Looze has this team on the right trajectory. Top 5 or better by time Blake is a Senior. IU is back in the conversation of elite!

About Tony Carroll

Tony Carroll

The writer formerly known as "Troy Gennaro", better known as Tony Carroll, has been working with SwimSwam since April of 2013. Tony grew up in northern Indiana and started swimming in 2003 when his dad forced him to join the local swim team. Reluctantly, he joined on the condition that …

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