Both the Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving teams took runners-up in the Horizon League Conference Championship, their highest placement since joining the Horizon League in 2017.
The IUPUI men’s team closely challenged nine time defending champion, Oakland, in the four-day long event. Ultimately, the championship came down to the final relay in which Oakland won by just three seconds, making this the closest Horizon League championship since 1999.
“A lot of the credit goes to our athletes, they work hard, show up every single day,” IUPUI men’s head swimming coach Damion Dennis said. “I do not think the job is done, but I think the athletes put in a lot of hard work and we are lucky enough to have front row seats to watch these athletes.”
IUPUI’s greatest strength came in the diving events. On the men’s side, freshman diver Sebastian Otero won both the one meter and three meter diving events handily. His performance earned him Diver of the Meet as well as Freshman of the Year honors.
“He is just dominant, I want to see what he looks like on a bad day because he does not seem to have those at all,” Dennis said. “In swimming, you can lap people, but Otero lapped the others in diving, which he would have won the events without his final dive.”
The IUPUI men’s team walked away with a haul of points in diving events that put them well ahead of the overall favorite, Oakland. IUPUI had four of the top eight in the one meter, and four of the top six in the three meter event. On the women’s side, junior diver Sadie Smith led IUPUI in both events, placing second in the three meter and fifth in the one meter.
To keep close to Oakland, IUPUI men’s swimmers had to deliver their best performances ever in the pool. IUPUI set the tone early by upsetting Oakland in the opening 200 yard medley relay. The Jags swam a new championship record time to beat Oakland by just a tenth of a second. The men continued strong into the second day by setting a new record time to win the 200 yard freestyle relay.
“When it comes to relays it is very team-first, we have been very close to winning relays in the last years and to finally get the win in them is a takeover and a transition into winning ways,” Dennis said. “For the next season we are adding to the 400 relay and the 400 medley, and beating a strong Oakland team comes by setting records.”
The IUPUI men’s team also showed up in the individual events. Spencer Jyawook won the 100 yard butterfly at a blistering pace. Logan Kelly was in a league of his own in the breaststroke events, by winning both the 100 and 200 yard breaststroke events. In the 200 yard breaststroke, Kelly destroyed the field with a new Horizon League record time that put him a substantial four seconds ahead of the field.
“On the men’s side we returned a lot of points and setting the relay records and winning those events show that we are hungry and we have at least two or three years left on this run,” Dennis said.
For coaching this group of strong swimmers, IUPUI men’s swimming and diving coach Dennis won Men’s Swimming coach of the year.
IUPUI’s standout individual performer on the women’s side was Emmale Zietlow, who won three different freestyle events. In the 500-yard freestyle, Zietlow swam a new record Horizon League championship time and qualified for NCAA championship consideration. Zietlow also earned Women’s Co-Swimmer of the Meet along with Oakland’s star swimmer, Susan LeGrand.
Freshman Gabrielle Puryear-Lynch had an outstanding first conference championship performance. In addition to her relay efforts, Puryear-Lynch won the 200 yard butterfly and placed third in the 100 yard butterfly.
“The freshmen are a reflection of the culture, program, and the people around them including the seniors, Dennis said. “It is important to learn about college athletics, college academics, and to be able to show their talent just shows the hard work with the help from the upperclassmen.”
In total, nine IUPUI swimmers and divers entered the NCAA championship consideration for their incredibly fast times and high scores for nine different events.