Competitor Coach of the Month is a recurring SwimSwam feature shedding light on a U.S.-based coach who has risen above the competition. As with any item of recognition, Competitor Coach of the Month is a subjective exercise meant to highlight one coach whose work holds noteworthy context – perhaps a coach who was clearly in the limelight, or one whose work fell through the cracks a bit more among other stories. If your favorite coach wasn’t selected, feel free to respectfully recognize them in our comment section.
Coach Ray Looze‘s Indiana Hoosiers were all but unstoppable at the biggest meet of the 2017 fall NCAA season thus far.
Swimming defending NCAA champions Texas and last year’s third-place team Florida on the men’s side, the IU men pulled off a big early-season win. Though clearly no team was at its best, Indiana gutted out a number of tough wins to top Texas by almost 100 points and Florida by 55. And on the women’s side, Indiana came within 26 points of Texas, a top-5 program a year ago, while beating up on Florida.
IU swept all eight relays at the tri meet and won 25 of 42 swimming events between men and women.
Here’s a quick look at a few of IU’s most impactful events from the tri meet:
- Women’s 400 medley: the Hoosiers return 3 of 4 legs from both All-American relays a year ago. But the graduation of flyer Gia Dalesandro looked like a big loss, with no one on the horizon to replace her. However, in Gainesville, junior Christine Jensen split 23.90 (eight tenths off what Dalesandro went in the NCAA final) as IU blew out the field and hit an NCAA B cut.
- Men’s 200 free: IU’s star Blake Pieroni (1:34.10) beat out a slugger’s row of top contenders in this race, including world champs silver medalist Townley Haas (1:38.68), world junior champ Maxime Rooney (1:35.65) and All-American Jan Switkowski (1:34.59). He won the event again when it was repeated on the second day, and teammate Kennedy Goss swept both 200 frees for women.
- Men’s 50 free: though Florida’s Caeleb Dressel is the hottest male swimmer on the planet at present, he was actually challenged in the 50 free by IU’s Ali Khalafalla, who went 19.82 to finish just two tenths back of Dressel. Hoosier freshman Bruno Blaskovich was 20.20 for third, and already looks like an impact pickup in recruiting. The next day, the event was repeated and Khalafalla was 20.0 and Blaskovich 20.1.
- Women’s 200 IM: known more as a breaststroker, Lilly King showed some excellent IM speed, charging to a win in 2:00.00. King struggled in this event at NCAAs last year, but has A final potential if she’s on her game this season.
- Men’s 200 IM: this was maybe the race of the night for the Hoosiers. Flyer Vini Lanza (1:46.56) and breaststroker Ian Finnerty (1:47.23) combined to go 1-2 over the top of defending NCAA co-champ Mark Szranek (1:47.51). No one’s saying Lanza and Finnerty are favored to beat Szaranek for the NCAA title in March, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see both score at NCAAs, perhaps even contest for A final spots.
- Men’s 100 fly: caught in the crossfire of the Dressel-Joseph Schooling rivalry, Lanza pushed Schooling right down to the touch, going 46.68 to Olympic champ Schooling’s 46.57 and beating world champ Dressel’s 47.17.
- Men’s 100 free: Pieroni beat out another stellar field for the 100 free win on day 1, going 43.18. That win was softened, though, by Dressel’s absence. But day 2, Dressel jumped into the 100 and Pieroni beat him head-to-head, 43.53 to 43.86.
- Men’s 100 back: Mohamed Samy (48.15) pulled off a major upset, beating the NCAA’s most highly-touted freshman backstroker Michael Taylor (48.33) and 2017 NCAA runner-up and presumptive 2018 title favorite John Shebat (48.39).
- Women’s & Men’s 100/200 breast: IU continued to defend its status as the NCAA’s breaststroke U, winning the women’s 100 with world champ Lilly King (59.46) and the men’s race with junior Ian Finnerty (53.38). Day two saw both complete sweeps with 200 breast wins (2:12.51 and 1:59.50, respectively). The top NCAA teams for both men and women are notoriously weak in breaststroke this season, and IU is set up better than any other team to take advantage of that weakness.
Though that tri meet was the highlight of the month, IU also ended October with a men’s sweep of Tennessee and Kentucky and a women’s win vs Kentucky.
Full results from both days
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