Let me preface everything I'm about to say with this: I do not know Ray Looze. My impression of him is mainly formed from pool deck gossip and fifteen or so years of following the Indiana University Swimming and Diving team from afar.
I started nerding out about Indiana in the early 2000s, when a star of my local club scene went to swim there. It was an eye opener for me. I felt like a real country bumpkin watching our local hero miss the conference team and compete in a last chance meet instead. Furthermore, I recall them having a guy (named Murph Halasz, I think) who went 1:46 in the 200 fly, and that was not fast enough to qualify for NCAAs.
I couldn't believe it. It was my first introduction into how crazy fast NCAA swimming is and was. In the subsequent years, Indiana remained a fascinating program for me. I remember how impossibly fast Colin Russell seemed, and then the drama that ensued when Colin Russell got ushered out of NCAA swimming.
The Russell saga established Looze' reputation as someone who pushed the boundaries. Indiana remained an always solid national presence, often derided by other coaches for exceptional recruiting classes and somewhat less exceptional results.
As I wrote about earlier, all of that changed when Looze shocked the college swimming world by managing to recruit former heated rival Dennis Dale over to his staff a few years ago. Now he's made two stunning pickups.
The first was Coley Stickels, the man who, in my humble opinion, has the most creative workouts in the country. Stickels has cut a swath through various club coaching jobs over the last decade, and success has always followed. Although, Stickels has a reputation for being even more of a loose cannon than Looze. That's where the mad scientist part comes in.
He followed that dagger by pulling in Mark Hill, formerly of Michigan and currently at Old Dominion Aquatic Club (and his own business Flow Swimming). Hill played an instrumental role in Michigan's 2013 National Title, and has spent the last year disrupting the swim clinic game. Hill will also help IU's already strong recruiting with his impossible-to-not-likeability.
While NC State is everyone's favorite ascendent team right now, Indiana is now staking their claim. They've built a coaching staff that can put them in contention for a National title very soon, even if Eddie Reese doesn't retire.
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