Both swimming and diving teams are entering the Horizon League tournament each with a winning season under their belt and looking to capture their first-ever Horizon League conference titles. The team has tweaked their strategy leading into the conference tournament, their freshmen are swimming well, and their mental fortitude has improved with the help of mental health specialists.
IUPUI men’s swimming is looking to cap off a dominant season where they went 9-3. Their only losses came against Xavier, University of Indianapolis and Horizon League rivals, Oakland. The team had some dominant wins this season against Ball State, Youngstown State, Bellarmine, Butler, and many other schools. Last year, the team finished 3rd in the tournament according to IUPUI Athletics, and will be looking to capture the gold this week.
The women’s team is also coming off a solid year with an 8-5 record and coming off two huge wins against Butler and Youngstown State. The team, like the men’s, also finished in 3rd last year, and will look to better their position this tournament. Both teams have been backing off workouts in order to have their bodies at full strength for conference.
“We have been tapering which means less yardage with higher intensity,” Junior Lela Wagner said. “We have cut back on hours at practice and we have not focused on lifting but more on mental work.”
While both IUPUI teams have had very strong performances this season, they both lost to Oakland in the regular season. Oakland is a favorite to once again win the Horizon League swimming and diving championships for the tenth year in a row for both divisions. Oakland has never lost a conference title since joining the Horizon League in 2014.
One of the big stories this season for both teams is how well the freshmen have stepped up to the test. Many freshmen either have won their respective events or placed well in recent meets. Against Butler on January 21, 2023, Freshmen Gabby Puryear-Lynch and Priscilla Zavala took 1st and 2nd in the Women’s 50-yard Butterfly over sophomores and juniors from Butler. Puryear-Lynch also won the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 55.72. Freshman Lylah Hutson won the Women’s 1000-yard freestyle. Another impressive freshman is Maxwell Blume, who won the men’s 100-yard breaststroke against Wabash.
“With all of our training and hard work throughout the season and with some of our freshmen,” Wagner said. “I think we have a good shot against Oakland, and it is more about trusting our work from the season and our taper.”
The teams have not only taken time on their abilities in the water but also focused a lot on their mental health this season. The team has several mental health specialists and a mental health coach to help them get ready mentally to step foot onto the big stages.
“We have worked with our individual coaches as well as the mental health coach,” Wagner said. “We do some mental exercises such as visualizing how we want our races to go.”
Diving is one of the Men’s team's specialties. In their matchup against Horizon League rivals, Youngstown State and Oakland, IUPUI had the top three divers in 3 meter dive and three of the top four divers in the 1 meter dive. This event has potential to put IUPUI on top in this tournament, and it has put them over the top in recent seasons. Last year in the Horizon League Championship, IUPUI had two freshmen in the top 8 in the 3 meter diving final; Sophomores Alex Scott and Adam Schmehl. This year, they added Freshman diver Sebastian Otero, who has won six Horizon League Men’s Divers of the Week Awards, topping any other diver.
IUPUI swimming and diving teams began their hunt for their first Horizon League title on Wednesday. Swimming and diving events will continue at the IUPUI Natatorium through Saturday.