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Ex-Hawkeye makes U.S. Olympic swimming team

BY MOLLY IRENE OLMSTEAD | JUNE 27, 2012 6:30 AM

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The 13 swimmers who competed for Iowa during the 2011-12 season weren't the only Hawkeye representatives at the U.S. Olympic trials on Monday night. Former Black and Gold swimmer Conor Dwyer, who swam for Iowa from 2007-09, placed second in the men's 400-meter freestyle and secured a spot as an alternate on the Olympic team.

Dwyer, who finished with a time of 3:47.83, lost to three-time Olympic medalist Peter Vanderkaay (3:47.67).

Iowa head coach Marc Long praised Dwyer, even though the ex-Hawkeye transferred to Florida following his sophomore year in Iowa City.

"It's great to see him earn this," Long said. "It's definitely improved since his years at Iowa, and we're happy to see him continue on in his career. He's not done yet, either — I think he has even more ahead of him."

Long said he'd rather see all his affiliates "in a Hawkeye cap," but Dwyer's Olympic accomplishment still helps boost Iowa's swimming program in the public eye.

"We keep stepping in the right direction," Long said. "We want to continue to increase our presence at this meet. We want to get athletes to believe that, not only can they qualify for this meet, but they can also compete well at it and achieve even more."

Dwyer also competed in the 200-meter freestyle on Tuesday, this time beating Vanderkaay in the preliminaries. Dwyer took fifth to qualify for the semifinal (1:48.42), and Vanderkaay finished right behind him to take sixth in the first round (1:48.47).

Dwyer beat Vanderkaay again in the semifinal, finishing third with a time of 1:47.38. He fell to six-time medal winner Ryan Lochte (1:46.25) and 16-time medalist Michael Phelps (1:46.27). The final for the event will take place this evening.

Hawkeye senior-to-be Jordan Huff also competed in the preliminaries of the men's 200-meter freestyle, finishing 40th with a time of 1:51.12. Teammate Paul Gordon finished behind him, taking 71st in the preliminaries with a time of 1:52.24.

The only returning athletes from the Hawkeye team, both Gordon and Huff competed in the 2008 Olympic trials: Huff took 46th in the men's 100-meter freestyle as the youngest competitor in the event, and Gordon took 79th in the men's 200-meter Individual medley.

"Compared to the 19-year-old me that was at the trials before, I have a whole new world of experience with college swimming," Gordon said on June 21. "A lot of guys on our team have the experience of elite swimming, but this is just one more thing to add on to it. We've traveled to nationals, we had Big Ten championships, and we scored a lot of points for our team against big opponents. To qualify for this meet and train for it, it's just something else to add on."

Three current Hawkeyes raced in the men's 100-meter backstroke: Grant Betulius took 41st (56.69), Byron Butler took 69th (57.42), and Dustin Rhodes took 109th (58.37).

Daniela Cubelic, who graduated from Iowa in this spring, was the only female to compete from the Hawkeyes on Tuesday. She finished 156th in the 100-meter backstroke with a time of 1:06.02.

Even though no Hawkeyes qualified for semifinals or later heats, Long said, the experience of the meet — arguably the fastest meet in the world — is an invaluable experience for his swimmers.

"This is just a great meet," he said. "It's such a big thing for our Iowa swimmers to be here."

Only one Hawkeye swimmer will compete in the trials today: Junior-to-be Emily Hovren will race in the 200-meter individual medley.

"It'll be a definite confidence booster to race in Omaha," Hovren said on June 21 before leaving for the meet. "Just knowing that I'm able to be the 0.5 percent of American swimmers to make the [time] cut for this meet, to make it to this elite of a meet is amazing. Having this experience behind me, being at a meet and racing against Olympians… it'll be an eye-opener for me. I can't wait."


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