Family atmosphere helps Hawkeye swimmers excel


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Former Iowa swimmer Paul Gordon had the opportunity to call some of his teammates extended family members during a career that included four All-American honorable mentions.

Now, as a student assistant coach for the squad, he is able to call two members of the Iowa swimming team — Jack and Haley Gordon — what he has his entire life: brother and sister.

Gordon’s titles include video coordinator and cameraman for the team and he fills in for other coaches when needed. His involvement allows him to guide younger siblings junior Haley Gordon and freshman Jack Gordon, who both swim for the Black and Gold.

Their mother, Paula Gordon swam in college, and the three siblings agree her love for the sport got them involved in swimming.

“We’ve always been a swimming family,” Paul Gordon said. “We’ve always been involved and enjoy watching each other, we’ve swum together since we were little, and it’s been really cool to continue that in college.”

For Jack Goprdon, swimming started out as a way to stay in shape and have fun. Though a four-time all-state (South Dakota) selection in swimming, he was more focused on baseball — a sport he thought he would pursue in college.

In high school, he helped lead his baseball team to the state title in 2011. But after several trips to Iowa to watch his older siblings compete, it rekindled his interest in swimming.

“It was so refreshing to see Paul and Haley have so much fun in the sport at such a high level and to be able to compete for the Hawkeyes,” the youngest Gordon said. “I saw it as my best option moving forward.”

He said he was thrilled when he got a scholarship offer from Iowa the summer before his senior year of high school and said he couldn’t have asked to attend a better school.

By still being a part of the team, Paul Gordon enjoys being able to watch his siblings swim and to see them make the same friends, have the same coaches, and achieve the same success as he did.

“The cool thing about swimming, it’s a race sport,” he said. “You just get to enjoy see people race each other down, win or lose, and knowing two of my teammates as my family members just makes it so much more rewarding.”

Jack and Haley Gordon followed their older brother in coming to Iowa, but he said they’ve made their own lives at Iowa. That doesn’t mean he can’t give them pointers in practice, though.

“[Paul] is a really smart swimmer,” Haley Gordon said. “He pays attention to how he swims and not just how fast he swims, and I think that’s a really important thing to know. I think it’s a trickling effect. We all just help each other.”

Coming in as a freshman, Jack Gordon felt confident that because of his siblings, he had their experience to help him and to share with his fellow freshmen while continuing to learn from them.
“I’m always learning from them each time I’m in the pool, each time I’m at a meet,” he said. “There’s so much to take away from the experiences they’ve had as Hawkeyes and all the knowledge they’ve built up.”

It’s not only learning from his siblings that he enjoys; he said that he is blessed to be able to swim alongside his sister and that he shares a friendship with both siblings that is much more than just being brothers and sister.

Like many younger siblings do, he looks up to both his sister and brother and their ability to lead.

“The success [Paul and his teammates] enjoyed at such a high level while taking the team from where it was a few years ago to where it is now is part of the legacy of being a Hawkeye and what you’re going to leave behind,” Jack Gordon said.

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