First All-American honors for a Hawkeye relay since 1995

BY BEN WOLFSON | MARCH 28, 2011 7:20 AM

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After a disappointing start to the NCAA championships on March 24 in which the Iowa men’s swimming team failed to qualify for finals in the 200-free relay, the four Hawkeyes came back as All-Americans.

The quartet of juniors Duncan Partridge, Paul Gordon, and Ryan Phelan and sophomore Jordan Huff swam the 400 free in a time of 2:54.19 in the preliminaries and then posted a time of 2:54.82 on March 26 in Minneapolis.

The 15th-place finish earned the Hawkeyes All-American honors, and they became the first Iowa All-Americans in a relay since 1995.

“This group, when the guys committed to Iowa, we could hardly win a dual meet, but now to step up on this stage, I’m very proud of them,” head coach Marc Long said. “It’s certainly left us hungry for more, and it’s motivating for the future.”

1995’s 400-free relay team consisted of Kryzstof Cwalina, Erik Marchitell, Jim Mulligan, and Rafal Szukala.

“[On March 24], we weren’t completely mentally ready,” Gordon said. “We got the first experience under our belt and figured out what we needed to do to have great swims in the morning.”

The Hawkeyes were able to regroup on March 25 and 26 as Gordon and Huff touched the wall in times of 1:35.67 and 1:37.45 while finishing 22nd and 39th in the 200 free.

“To bounce back that quickly was motivation for me,” Huff said. “Even though we were off our best times, we still continued to race.”

The strong swimming continued March 26 for Iowa as Gordon and Partridge raced in lanes next to each other during the preliminary rounds of the 100 free. Gordon etched his name in the Iowa record books as he set a school record with a time of 43.51, breaking the previous mark he had set at the Big Ten championships in 2010.

Partridge posted a college-best time of 43.56 as he touched the wall for 30th place.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Hawkeyes earned All-American honors in the 400-free relay. Throughout the season, Iowa consistently depended on the group to score points, and it became the team’s strongest event.

The squad of Gordon, Huff, Partridge, and Phelan have been swimming this relay almost exclusively together for the past two years.

“That was the most exciting way we could’ve [finished]” Gordon said.

“We watched three teams swim in the first heat [of the 400-free relay] that we knew we could beat,” Huff said. “We were never really worried about disqualifying; the goal of the weekend was to get points at national championships — we didn’t want to just be there.”

The team hopes to build on a successful season, and they want to send more swimmers to the NCAAs next year.

“Now, Big Tens don’t seem nerve-racking,” Partridge said. “[Swimming in the NCAAs] is the most experience I’ve ever gained for one swim meet. I wish I had more dual meets [this season], because I’d be ready the most I’ve ever been.”

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