The Iowa State swim and dive team heads to Morgantown, West Virginia, for the second time this season to close out their conference schedule with a win at the Big 12 Championships.
The Cyclones got a chance to look at the Mountaineers' new pool about a month ago when they traveled to West Virginia for the dual meet, which ended in a 133-167 loss for Iowa State.
Head Coach Duane Sorenson said he believes that having already competed in the new pool will give his team a leg up on the rest of the competition, as no one else in conference has done so yet.
"When you go to a new pool it takes you a little while to get used to everything and the routine," Sorenson said. "It'll be the same hotel that a lot of our travel team stayed at and they know the lay of the land... they do have a distinct advantage."
Sorenson also said the Kansas coaches were asking him questions about it when they traveled to Ames a couple weeks ago, when Kansas took down the Cyclones 111-204.
Sorenson said he is having his team watch videos of the races from the Kansas dual leading up to the Big 12's. The team can see what they did right, what Kansas did better and how they can match Kansas to improve for the championships.
In the two weeks of practice that the team hasn't been competing, Sorenson said he is also having his team work on speed work and finding what he calls their easy speed: swimming fast, but not in a way where they expend a lot of energy, so they can save up their energy for the whole meet.
To combat the length of the meet and to make sure the athletes don't get tired over the four days of swimming and diving, Sorenson said he is having them spend lots of time in recovery protocol and stay off their legs between sessions. Sorenson also said a masseuse will work with the athletes to help loosen tight and sore muscles.
"Our women will do a long warm down and they'll take a recovery drink, they'll do an eight to 10 minute ice bath," Sorenson said. "They'll put compression tights and top on to help their body in recovery... we call it a business trip."
Since this is one of the last meets of the season, as well as one of the bigger ones, emotions and nerves can start to kick in for seniors and freshmen alike. Sorenson said the freshmen have some nerves in the beginning, and have the chance if they don't do as well this year that, 'oh I'll do better next time.'
Sorenson said it's different for the seniors, because there's always the feeling of 'I can't believe it's my last career swim.'
"We always see a lot is what we call a 'senior swim,' where they really get deep down inside and come up with amazing swims," Sorenson said. "The Kansas coach and I always talk about that is when he has underclassmen and I have an upperclassmen or vice versa and they're eyeball to eyeball you know who's going to win, the senior is going to find a way."
Unlike last month, when the Cyclones flew to West Virginia, this time Sorenson said all swimmers and divers will be traveling with the team, although not everyone can score.
Sorenson said that while everyone gets to swim, a limit of 18 swimmers can score. Everyone who doesn't score is considered a B swimmer. They swim in the preliminaries and then in what is called a bonus heat, which is the next fastest swimmers after the scored swimmers.
The Last Chance Meet takes place right after the Big 12 Championships are over, on March 1.
The meet is called the Last Chance Meet because it's the last chance for swimmers and divers to qualify for the NCAA Championships later in March, which takes the top 32 to 34 swimmers, qualified by fastest times.
Sorenson said he only puts his swimmers in the the Last Chance Meet if they are on the bubble and have the chance of making the NCAA's. The rest of the team flies back to Ames, Iowa, at the conclusion of the Big 12's.
Sorenson said the biggest thing he tells his team is that they have "one shot at this, there's no do-over's... you get one opportunity and you've got to be ready to go when it's your opportunity."