Hawks haul out oldies-but-goodies

BY EVELYN LAU | APRIL 21, 2009 7:30 AM

Robert Leyshon was an All-American for Iowa when most of the current roster was still in diapers.

This past weekend, the Iowa swimming and diving team held its second alumni meet. Approximately 25 former Hawkeyes returned and competed against the current squad in 21 events. Current head coach Marc Long, a 1991 Iowa graduate, even got into the act by competing in the 50 butterfly against some of his student-athletes during a weekend that honored both current and past Iowa swimmers and divers.

“What’s great about this [event] is that our current athletes get to race in more — I hate to use the word ‘practice setting’ — but it’s been awhile since they’ve raced, and the alumni get to come back and experience some of these people they haven’t seen in decades and realize that they weren’t quite as good as before,” Long said. “But it’s a lot of fun, and we always wrap it up with the ‘Fight Song.’ It also shows our current athletes what kind of support there is for our program from around the country and even the world.”

Things kicked off on April 17 with a social in the Kinnick Stadium press box, followed by the alumni meet the following morning and then a banquet later in the evening.

While this is only the second year that an alumni meet has taken place, it has been something the coaching staff has thought about for a while, especially given the program’s past. The swimming and diving program began in 1917, and it has produced 19 NCAA champions and countless All-Americans.

“It was just something we sort of wanted to put together because we have such a rich history of swimming at Iowa,” assistant coach Frannie Malone said. “You can imagine the history behind [the program], and something that we’ve talked a lot about, just wanting to give our current team an identity just linking the past with the future. It sounded like a really fun way. We’ve had a lot of ex-Hawkeye swimmers who are still out there doing the sport and a lot who aren’t but are crazy enough to come back and dive in once a year.”

Leyshon, an attorney in Illinois, jumped back into the pool after a 11-year absence. He was a former All-American in the 100 and 200 breaststroke before graduating in 1991.

For him, the opportunity to jump back into the Field House pool and see his old teammates brought back feelings of nostalgia.

“It was fun seeing everybody,” he said. “Once you stop, it’s not about the competition, it’s about seeing people so that was good. [My teammates and I] were all a good close group of people and it’s nice to see everybody. Now they have families, and very different lives that what we had back then.”

During the meet, alumni got a head start before the current swimmers were allowed to dive in. One of the more impressive performances came from alum Greg Sieh, who finished second in the 50 freestyle with a time of 19.89. Sieh was a 1969 graduate and the oldest alum to compete in the meet.
However, even for current Hawkeyes, this event was one many were looking forward to.

“This is probably one of my favorite meets to come to,” senior Alison Gschwend said. “Just because you have generations of Hawkeyes, and then the thing I look most forward to is afterwards, when everyone does the ‘Fight Song’ together.”

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