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No Shaving in November for men’s swimming

BY IAN MURPHY | NOVEMBER 13, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Campus Recreation & Wellness Center, specifically the pool, is the place to find facial hair in the month of November.

Every November, much to the disdain of head coach Marc Long’s wife, Beth, the Iowa men’s swimming team participates in “No-Shave November” as a team-bonding exercise, and anything from full beards to lamb chops to chinstraps can be found on the faces of the swimmers.

“She likes the team aspect, not my face,” Long said. “Over the years, we’ve done this several times as we get ready for the peak fall meets. The guys grow out their hair as best they can.”

The facial hair comes with various degrees of success, and while there is some debate about what style is the best, the unanimous consensus is that junior Mike Nelson has the best 5 o’clock shadow on the team.

“He’s been able to grow facial hair since he was like 12,” junior Matt Boyd said.

Nelson did not dispute that he owns the best whiskers.

“Hands down, which isn’t saying much,” Nelson said about whether his face foliage was the best on the team.

However, it hasn’t always been that way. He said Jordan Huff, a former Hawkeye swimmer who graduated in 2013, used to be the owner of the best chin music on the team.

“He wouldn’t touch his face from August to March,” Nelson said about Huff. “He would grow it all the way from August to Big Tens.”

Huff said he grew his “gnarly” bristle for a full year his senior year, until the chlorine stopped it from growing.

Huff’s senior year was also Boyd’s freshman year, a time when much of the team was underclassmen and facial hair was harder to come by.

“As freshmen and sophomores, a majority of people can’t really grow facial hair,” Boyd said. “So a lot of us were like, this isn’t the most fun because we all look stupid walking across campus.”

After aging a few years, however, it’s a competition to see who can grow the best beard, he said.

Because of the meet at Minnesota Oct. 31, Nelson and others did not have a chance to shave stubble their for a fresh start before November. 

“We had someone [at the meet] with massive lamb chops,” Nelson said.  “I had just a soul patch and a mustache.”

Boyd did not shave for the entire week leading up to the Minnesota dual meet. He said he approached team captain Grant Betulius about shaving on Nov. 3. Betulius said no.

Even from year to year, the variety of face furniture has varied. Long said last season was one of the toughest, when the team decided to grow mustaches, and that the tradition has created some interesting family portraits.

“Our Christmas picture is done at my in-laws over Thanksgiving, so I have some goofy pictures,” he said.

The whole men’s team, including the staff, has agreed to participate in the razor boycott, which will end around Thanksgiving for some, as they prepare for the Hawkeye Invitational on Dec. 5, and will go longer for others. Nelson hopes he doesn’t have to shave until the NCAA championship meet.

Overall, the annual tradition is a bonding experience for the team.

“It helps bring these guys together, they’re a close bunch, and they’re working hard, and it’s showing,” Long said.

Follow @IanFromIowa on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa men’s swimming and diving team.


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