Iowa swimming's new recruits include future Olympian
The Iowa men's swimming team has come a long way over the past few years.
The Hawkeyes reeled in one of the nation's top recruiting classes, a little more than half a decade after the program nearly crumbled because of major violations. Iowa was placed on two years' probation and had one scholarship removed for each of the following three seasons after the NCAA reported that three ineligible student-athletes competed for the Black and Gold from 2002-04.
Iowa head coach Marc Long, who took over the program in wake the of the incident, said that the rebuilding effort he assumed eight seasons ago is far from complete.
"The program was basically a corpse," Long said. "To even have the season we had last year is amazing because we're not where we want to be, but this is an angle in the right direction."
The incoming class is spearheaded by a couple of top ranked international swimmers, David Ernstsson of Sweden and Roman Trussov of Kazakhstan. Both are ranked among the top 35 swimming recruits — 25 and 35 respectively — according to collegeswimming.com.
Long, a former Hawkeye swimmer himself, is aware of the high expectations the 2012 rookies bring, but said that you have to see the results in the water before deeming it a success.
"We were able to get in a very talented and developing class," Long said. "We filled some big holes, but like any recruiting class we have to wait and see what they do when they get here."
Ernstsson's personal best times of 20.30 seconds in the 50-meter freestyle and 48.91 seconds in the 100-meter freestyle convinced the Iowa alum that he had found his man. Long said that their new European protégé will fill a big hole that was left by the graduating class.
"We're losing a lot of freestylers, in the sprint especially, and David has the speed we are looking for," Long said. "We expect him to come in and be an immediate contributor."
Trussov is a breaststroke specialist who posted personal best times of 24.28 seconds in the 50-meter and 1:01.81 in the 100-meter. Long said that the Kazakhstani athlete has already proven that he has the ability to succeed at the collegiate level.
"Roman is already going to the Olympics to represent his country," Long said. "He certainly has the times to compete in the Big Ten."
Graduated Iowa swimmer Paul Gordon has witnessed Ernstsson's talents first-hand and said that the incoming freshman is an ideal recruit for the Hawkeyes.
"I competed against him in Swedish nationals last summer and he's a very competitive guy," Gordon said. "[Ernstsson] is really raw and has a lot of improving to do, but that's exactly what Iowa looks for so he's going to be a great fit here."
Gordon also said that the American style of racing has the potential to cause some issues for international swimmers, regardless of how talented they are.
"Swimming is more of an individual sport rather than a team sport overseas," Gordon said. "It's a complete change for [foreginers] when the team is suddenly reliant upon them."
Departing senior Byron Butler has no doubt that the incoming talent will help the program reach new heights. He said that his class started the job and now the next class has to finish it.
"The new guys will absolutely keep this program rolling," Butler said. "The ground work has been laid for the winning to continue and there's no reason why they won't be able to succeed."
The program has not yet fully recovered from the destruction left six years ago, but Long said that incoming squads like this will make sure the past mistakes stay where they belong.
"We just got our money back from the scandal about a year and a half ago," Long said. "We've stopped talking about it because we don't want any excuses."
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