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Hawkeye senior swimmer Huff leads by example and character

BY JALYN SOUCHEK | FEBRUARY 08, 2013 5:00 AM

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Before senior Jordan Huff was an All-American, Big Ten champion, and a two-time NCAA qualifier, he was a shy but highly recruited kid from Dubuque. A kid who in high school had been a 10-time All-American, a six-time state champion, and a member of the USA Junior National swim team.

But it wasn’t just Huff’s decorated high-school résumé or the respected prep program from which he hailed that head coach Marc Long said solidified his interest in him. Instead, it was when Huff made a seemingly difficult decision that left an imprint on the college coach.

When Huff joined his high-school swim team, he and his teammates set a goal: to win a team state title by their senior year. It was “a lofty goal,” Long said.

As a 16-year-old, Huff qualified as a member of the Junior National swim team and competed in Australia in the Junior World Championships. The following year, he again made the team but decided against going back to the international stage.

Instead, he felt he belonged in Dubuque with his fellow swimmers.

“He turned it down, which is unheard of, he turned down the second trip with the USA Junior National team, to go to another location overseas, to be with his high-school team to try to win the state meet,” Long said. “They won the state meet on the last relay with him anchoring.”

Long knew at that point that Huff is exactly what the Hawkeyes needed.

“That to me is what we needed to help turn this team around,” Long said. “If he’s willing to sacrifice the prestige of being on that team, he just said no — it was an easy decision for him, ‘these are my teammates’ and that’s what was contagious here for us and has really helped us turn the corner.”

Since then, Huff has played a vital role for the Black and Gold’s success over recent years. He’s one of the strongest freestyle swimmers on this year’s team and has also developed into an established leader — Huff was named a team captain his junior and senior years.

His teammates can’t praise their fearless leader enough. Sophomore Grant Betulius has swam on relays with Huff, and said he feels more confident just by swimming in the same race as him.

“He’s one of the hardest workers on the team and you see that every single day at practice, every day in the weight room, every single set he does,” Betulius said. “He leads a lot by example.”

Huff said there’s some pressure tacked on to being looked at as leading by example, but it’s a position in which he is able to flourish.

“I feel like I feed off of it. It’s great, and I love it whenever anyone comes and asks me a question or they ask me to step up and swim a different race that I usually don’t swim,” Huff said. “I just feed off of that. I’m really glad that they put me in that situation.”

Throughout the seasons, Long has seen Huff grow and become more vocal. His intensity has increased, making him intimidating to not only foes but to the freshmen, at least at first.

Huff’s personality helps his leadership soar.

“He can be emotional and somewhat goofy. He’s probably one of the goofier guys on the team,” Long said. “To do all that and for him to pull all that in and compete at the highest level is really something the team has respect for and I have respect for. He’s definitely the guy you want anchoring that relay or brining the team closer together.”

Huff has fulfilled the expectations of his head coach and can always be trusted to get the job done.

“He’s not somebody you replace because his personality is so strong,” Long said. “… It’s been a great experience, but the story isn’t finished yet.”

“There’s not going to ever be another Jordan Huff.”


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