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Swimming’s swan song

BY PATRICK RAFFERTY | FEBRUARY 05, 2010 7:30 AM

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In 1927, Iowa had the largest indoor swimming pool in the world.

Now, the Hawkeyes can’t even train long course.

Dave Armbruster, Iowa’s head coach for almost 40 years, designed the Field House, which for almost 83 years has stood as the home of the Iowa swimming and diving teams. After today, however, competition will no longer take place in the facility’s waters.

And when Western Illinois travels to Iowa City, the Hawkeyes will also bid farewell to its seniors.
Growing up in Coralville, senior Josh Schubert has watched the Hawkeyes since he was a kid. He remembers coming to the Field House for meets as a child aspiring to be a Hawkeye like All-American Iowa record holder and former Olympian Artur Wojdat.

“It’s just special with all the former great swimmers we’ve had here, to be able to follow their success,” Schubert said. “There have been some great Olympians. It’s just fun to be able to swim and train in the same place they did, and follow behind them.”

Along with Schubert, two Iowa coaches also have strong Hawkeye roots. Head coach Marc Long and assistant coach Frannie Malone both swam in Hawkeye waters.

Long, a six-time All-American, led Iowa to its best finish (eighth) at the NCAA championships.

A shoulder injury cut Malone’s Hawkeyes swimming career short. Afterward, she served as a student assistant coach to stay close to the team and the building she has steadily grown fond of.

“I think there’s a real bond that you get with all of the stories that everybody has had,” Malone said. “It really is special. Especially the members of the team now who get to be a part of the end of the Field House and the beginning of a new facility.”

Senior Jake Moore will also swim his last lap in the pool and for the Hawkeyes. Along with Moore and Schubert, seniors Nick Divan, Brian Farris, Michael Gilligan, Brad Jones, Matt Ryan, and Frank Van Dijkhuizen will be honored before today’s meet.

When Moore began swimming at Iowa, the team averaged almost six losses per season. At present, the Hawkeyes are 9-1 overall and on pace for one of their best finishes in Iowa swimming history.

“I think to swim for this team was special,” Moore said. “I joined the team when it was very small, and it’s been growing ever since. It’s been fun to see the team get better and better each year and improve by leaps and bounds along the way.”

Gearing up for the last dual meet of the season and in the history of the Field House, the Hawkeyes aren’t looking past their opponent. Western Illinois has not won a meet this season, but the Hawks remain focused.

“They may not be the same caliber of team than some of the others,” Schubert said. “But they’re going to race you hard, and you’ve got to prepare the same way.

“Every meet is important, Senior Day a little more than most because it’s your last [time], but hopefully, we’ll be able to get a win.”

While Iowa will close a chapter in its swimming book, a new one will open up.

The Hawkeyes are hoping the combination of the great success they had this season and the new Campus Recreation & Wellness Center will bring back the elite status the team achieved from 1980-1995, when it finished in the top 23 each year.

“This puts us on an even playing field with the Big Ten and the rest of the nation,” Malone said. “It will be one of the nicest pools. We’re more than excited. We’re hearing a lot of excitement from people in the swimming community, from recruits, and it’s just a really fun time to be a Hawkeye.”


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