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In-state swimmers go from high school rivals to college teammates

BY BEN WOLFSON | JANUARY 20, 2011 7:10 AM

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One-third of the Hawkeyes’ men’s swim team hails from Iowa, mkaing the possibility that the swimmers competed against each other in high school extremely likely.

Before junior Ryan Phelan and sophomore Jordan Huff were standout swimmers for the Iowa men’s team, they were fierce competitors during their high-school careers.

Phelan went to swimming powerhouse Cedar Rapids Washington, a team that has won 46 district titles in a row and 27 state titles. Huff went to Dubuque Senior.

“I think I probably swam against every member of the team who is from Iowa [in high school],” Huff said. “I swam against Ryan Phelan every year for a dual meet, every year at conference, every year at districts, and every year at state.

“He left the breaststroke and swam the 100 free his senior year and broke my conference record swimming against me — that’s the one I’ll never forget.”

To this day, Phelan has the DVD of that race. Once in a while, he’ll pop it in around Huff to rub in his victory.

“The funny thing about that is [Huff] had gotten off a plane from Australia the day before, and he was jet-lagged,” Phelan said. “My coach said, ‘If you ever want to beat this kid, it’d be the day.’ ”

Former rivals turned teammates have helped breed better team chemistry and competition, Phelan said. With his being a year older, he often spoke to Huff in high school and gave him a recruiting pitch to join the Hawkeyes after he had committed himself.

When they communicated, Phelan told Huff of all their battles together in high school and how much better both of them would develop as swimmers from competing against each other every day in practice.

Another teammate of Huff and Phelan’s who hails from Iowa is sophomore Donny Warren. Warren went to Dubuque Hempstead, and he has known Huff since childhood. The close friends went to cross-town schools but swam on the Dubuque Area Swimming Hurricanes club team.

“Coming in and seeing all the other big names coming up and actually being on the team with them was a real relief,” Warren said. “Jordan and I were conference athletes of the year, which was something great to share with him after swimming together for so long.”

The chemistry of the men’s team is easy to see, and it has played a key role in developing better swimmers. Head coach Marc Long has been able to use it as a recruiting tool and has snagged Huff and freshman Dustin Rhoads — both the top-ranked swimmers in Iowa in their respective years.

“I pushed myself every day in the water in high school just to beat these guys, and now I get to push myself with them there in college,” Huff said. “The amount of energy and effort I had to put in just to race against these guys in high school has definitely contributed to my development in high school and college.”


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