Oct. 18, 2004
With a new coach behind the wheel and an experienced senior class taking charge, the University of Iowa women’s swimming and diving program looks to improve on a sub-par 2003-04 season and return to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2002.
University of Iowa alum Marc Long enters his first season as head coach for the Hawkeyes. He previously served as assistant for the Hawkeye men (1998- 2001) before joining the Hawkeye women in 2002-03. Long helped the women to their highest placing and point total (20th, 41) ever at the NCAA Championships in 2002. The Hawkeyes posted an 8-4 overall record that year.
Long will be assisted by Iowa alum Frannie DeBord. DeBord returns to Iowa, where she was a backstroker and student assistant coach (1996-2000), after coaching stints at Tulane and Fresno State.
After a 3-7 overall record last year and a ninth place finish at the Big Ten Championships, Long has high hopes for the Hawkeyes this season. Aided by 10 seniors, Long’s Hawkeyes will look to return to the NCAA Championships and put forth an improved showing at Big Tens.
Senior Jennifer Skolaski
“Our senior class is a strong, experienced group with great leadership skills,” Long commented. “Many of our student-athletes are proven performers at the national level.”
Long was speaking of seniors Lisette Planken and Jennifer Skolaski, and juniors Nancilea Underwood and Kelly Werner. Each competed at the Olympic trials last summer. Planken placed 21st in the three-meter diving at the World Cup in Athens, Greece to qualify for the Dutch National team. She also placed sixth on one-meter and 11th on three-meter at the European National Championships and seventh on one-meter at the World Championships. Underwood placed fourth on three-meter at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials and the U.S. National Championships. Both Planken and Underwood received Olympic redshirts as they sat out last season to train for the Olympics.
All-American and co-captain Jennifer Skolaski returns for her final year as a Hawkeye and hopes to add to an already impressive list of accomplishments. After a record-breaking performance at the Big Ten Championships last season, Skolaski earned second-team all-Big Ten honors. She broke her own school record in the 200 back (1:57.51) with a runner-up finish at Big Tens and set a school record in the 200 free with a 1:49.07 leg of the 800 relay. Skolaski also swam lead legs on the school-record setting 200 medley relay.
An NCAA qualifier for three straight years, Skolaski led the team in the 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 free, as well as the 100 and 200 back and the 200 IM. She also swam the lead leg in four team relays and posted 28 top five individual finishes in 2004. Skolaski was an academic all-Big Ten team member and was named the teams’ Most Valuable.
Senior Lisette Planken
Skolaski and Planken will be supported by a strong cast of seniors, including fellow captains Katelyn Eustis, Molly Gable and Katie Haeger. Eustis led the team in the 400 IM, swam the third leg of the record-setting 800 free relay and was a member of the academic all-Big Ten team. Gable swam a collegiate-best in the 100 free and season-bests in the 50 and 200 free at Big Tens last season. She was the recipient of the Hawkeye Award, given to the athlete that exemplifies what it means to be a Hawkeye, in and out of the pool. Haeger posted a Hawkeye season-best time in the 100 breast (1:04.89) and swam on the team-leading 200 free relay and the record-setting 200 medley relay.
Katie Bures, Erin Cochran, Kristen Eide, Caitlin Girdley and Abby Van Maaren fill out the remainder of the senior class. Bures led the team in one- and three-meter diving last season, while Cochran posted season-bests in the 50 and 200 free at Big Tens. Eide was the Hawkeyes’ top performer in the 200 breast (2:20.81) and swam on the team-leading 400 medley relay. Girdley was one of three Hawkeyes to place in the 200 back at Big Tens, taking 14th in a time of 2:02.85. She also posted 13 top-five finishes last season. Van Maaren was a valuable sprinter and relay member, as she helped the 200 and 400 free relays to team-leading times. Abby also posted a Hawkeye season-best time of 23.54 in the 50 free.
Anchoring the junior class with Underwood are Kelly Werner and Andrea Hemphill. Werner is the Hawkeyes’ top returning swimmer in the 100 fly (56.76) and was a member of the team-leading 400 medley relay. She also placed 12th in the 200 back and 13th in the 100 back and was a member of the record-setting 200 medley relay at Big Tens. Werner also recorded 21 top-five individual finishes in 2003-04. Hemphill led the team in the 200 fly, swimming a collegiate-best 2:06.33, which ranks 10th on Iowa’s all-time list and posted 16 top-five individual finishes.
Junior Nancilea Underwood
Long is excited about the addition of three new freshmen. Emily Bensink and Mindy Schulte add depth to a talented sprint group, while Aimee Moylan will join an elite group of divers.
One area the Hawkeyes want to maintain is their performance in the classroom. Since the Big Ten Conference started awarding academic all-Big Ten honors to women’s swimming and diving in 1983-84, 139 Hawkeyes have been named to the list, including 12 each of the last two years. Quite an accomplishment considering a student-athlete must be a letterwinner in at least their second academic year and carry a career grade point average of 3.0 or better to be eligible for the honor.
With the leadership of the senior class and the potential of the underclassmen, Long is looking forward to the 2004-05 season. “We have a proud group of athletes looking not only for a successful season but a positive future,” Long commented.