Ball State men’s swim and dive return to Lewellen Aquatic Center Jan. 28 to face Mid-American Conference rival Evansville.

Head swimming coach Bob Thomas said both squads are evenly matched with Evansville each year.

“They got some really top swimmers, and we have an opportunity to compete with them,” Thomas said. “Evansville tends to bring out the best in us.”

The series between the Cardinals and Purple Aces is tied at 3-3. Thomas said he hopes that his team is up for the challenge.

“The more competitive they get, the more competitive we get, and vice-versa,” Thomas said. “That is what makes it a rivalry.”

In practices this week, freshman Logan Ackley has been focusing on endurance for the 200-yard backstroke.

“I’m trying to keep a consistent time for my 200s,” Ackley said.

Ackley’s average time for each 50-yards, during practice, is a high 29 seconds.

“I’m hoping to get those times down to 28 seconds,” Ackley said.

During practices, freshman Ben Andrew has been focusing on his underwaters and exchanges. Andrew said the workouts that have helped him are sprints.

“We would simulate an event by racing for time,” Andrew said. "I really think these workouts have helped my times.”

This week, Andrew has heard a lot about this rivalry. Andrew said all the upperclassmen are excited about this meet.

“We are going to give it all we got,” Andrew said.

On the diving boards, head diving coach Nick Gayes said sophomore Gabe Dean has made some good strides since the start of the season.

“He is much more confident and it shows in practices and meets,” Gayes said. “He also has a little fire under him, so I love where he is at right now.”

On practice Jan. 25, Gayes told the divers to be “unshakeable.”

“Divers have a tendency to get rattled if they do not do a good dive, and they dwell on it for the next rounds,” Gayes said. “We want them to focus on what we can control and taking it one dive at a time.”

Dean would agree with Gayes’ remarks on being “unshakeable.”

“You just gotta do what you know how to do,” Dean said. “It does not matter what other divers are thinking, you have to go in there and be unshakeable.”

This week, Dean has more confidence on his optional dives. Dean said he is starting to wean off Gayes’ calls.

According to Diving.isport.com, a call is a verbal command from a coach to a diver when to come out of a certain dive.

“So I have started to do my dives by myself [without a call],” Dean said. “That has given me a heck of a lot of confidence.”

The meet starts at 1 p.m. at Lewellen Aquatic Center.