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AquaHawks end Field House legacy

BY PATRICK RAFFERTY | FEBRUARY 08, 2010 7:30 AM

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The Hawkeyes had to win this meet.

When the Iowa men’s swimming and diving team opened its inaugural season in 1927, it faced Illinois. And it was only fitting the last meet in the Field House pitted another Illinois school against Iowa — Western Illinois.

Head coach Marc Long said the team engineered the schedule to end the building’s legacy in same way Hawkeyes began by competing against a neighbor.

“I hate not to win the last meet,” he said after Iowa’s 162-52 win on Feb. 5.

Energized from beginning to end, the Hawkeyes handled their opponent with relative ease.

Added energy also came from an unexpected source, the crowd.

With the bottom stands of the Field House pool filled by approximately 1,000 fans, stragglers watched from the top. While there was no official attendance count, the presence of the large crowd was certainly felt.

Iowa assistant coach Frannie Malone took note of the attendance. Malone, who had family in the crowd, cited the tremendous support as a contributor to her team’s success.

“It’s a proper ending to give this old facility a big win on its way out,” she said. “I saw a lot of people. I would look up in the stands, and I would see a lot of administrators, a lot of old coaches, a few people that I swam with in town. I think a lot of people kind of came in to say their goodbyes.”

Heading into Iowa’s last competitive race in the 83-year old facility, there was a sense that something was about to happen.

When the Hawkeyes stepped up to the blocks, fans rose to their feet as the Iowa bench simultaneously shouted, “Field House. Field House. Field House.” honoring the last race in the building’s history.

“Our team gets it, and it’s emotional,” Long said. “But I have to admit it did kind of get to me with that relay, watching them step up at the last event. It means a lot to the guys.”

Senior Matt Ryan, who swam his last race for the Hawkeyes, said receiving such support on a special night was nice.

“It was just a good feeling,” he said. “I had a lot of good memories here. There’s been a lot of history in this pool, and I’m happy a lot of people acknowledged it.”

The Hawkeyes also honored their seniors before the meet. Iowa senior swimming Brad Jones remembers how far he has come during his four years, and since his first race.

“It’s been a long road,” the Knoxville, Tenn., native said. “The whole team has come a really long way. It’s nice to see. … My first dual meet here, I disqualified our very first relay. I remember there were a lot of tears on that one. To go out with a win and such a fun relay at the end is just a total turnaround.”


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