Hawkeye swimming’s best import


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Senior swimmer Katarina Tour had no intention of moving from her home in Stockholm, Sweden, to the United States to pursue a swimming career.

Though she was a highly decorated young swimmer and competed on the Swedish junior national team, she had no plans to continue swimming competitively. And she was not recruited by Iowa.

Hawkeye Head coach Marc Long was interested in a Swedish swimmer named Therese Bergstrom, who he found via standings on the Internet. But when Bergstrom, a teammate of Tour’s, decided not to swim at Iowa, she recommended Tour as a possible recruit.

“I was actually not recruited by any other school,” Tour said. “It was always Iowa or staying in Sweden.”

Four years later, the NCAA championships hopeful holds three school records in individual events and has also contributed to two school records in relays. Her name appears many other times in the archive of Iowa’s top-10 times in various events, and she was named Big Ten Swimmer of the Week in December.

“Tour was right in that limbo of whether she should pursue another area or come on over,” Long said. “She was very accomplished as a swimmer but needed to make that choice.”

Because Swedish high schools and colleges do not have any athletics, swimmers are limited to competing on club teams. This makes it difficult for them to stay competitive in the sport.

“I would have continued swimming because it has always been a big part of my life,” Tour said. “But here you are given the opportunity to combine school with a very high level of swimming. “You don’t get that anywhere else in the world.”

While Tour, an international-studies major, has a long list of accomplishments to show her success at the university, she admits it was not an easy transition at the start.

“It was a lot of adjustment in the beginning,” she said. “I remember feeling that I was just thrown into this new life with so many obligations.”

In addition to a strenuous practice schedule, hefty class schedule, and the hours spent with a mandatory tutor, she had to learn a new culture.

The language was especially challenging for Tour, who said she knew next to nothing about the United States prior to living here.

“So much of your identity is in your language and how you use it,” she said. “It took a while to adjust to that and to figure out the social rules.”

She has since found an identity as a versatile swimmer and a leader among her teammates.

“Overall, it’s gratifying from my perspective to see someone come in as a freshman and see them develop individually as a person as well as an athlete,” Long said. “And that’s what she has done.”

Tour’s teammates have great respect for her, and they believe the entire team benefits from her presence as a captain.

“Katarina has high standards for herself and for the team,” said junior co-captain Danielle Carty. “She knows what it will take to be successful.

“She motivates the team on a daily basis and encourages all the women to always perform at their best.”

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