Aug. 12, 2008
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Editor’s note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Thursday, Aug. 7, highlighting one athlete from each of the 24 intercollegiate sports offered by the University of Iowa. More than 700 talented student-athletes are currently busy preparing for the 2008-09 athletics year at the UI. Hawkeyesports.com will introduce you to 24 Hawkeyes who, for one reason or another, are poised to play a prominent role in the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI in the coming year.
by Sean Neugent
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa hit gold when it recruited and signed Conor Dwyer, who already has an extensive list of accomplishments on his resumé after just one season of competition.
Dwyer, a sophomore who plans on earning a communications degree with a business minor, is a resident of Winnetka, Ill. He attended Loyola Academy before ultimately choosing to be part of the tradition-rich Iowa swimming and diving program. Dwyer has helped put the UI on a fast track to success.
“When I went on a trip here I loved the campus and I thought it was probably the best for my academics and athletics combined,” Dwyer said. “It’s great to be a Hawkeye.”
Before Dwyer came to the UI, he already had a friend on the team — senior Ashley Dell. Dell is one of the top female swimmers and a co-captain for the program (along with Dwyer). Both athletes met at their club back home and still swim together there. UI head coach Marc Long knows he has two gems in these athletes and he considers both very similar in their characteristics.
“We saw potential in both of them,” said Long, who is in his fifth year as head coach. “Their attitude and work ethic, the way they treated the aspect of team, we felt would fit in perfectly with what we were trying to do. Because of their work ethic and determination, they have seen great time drops and are competing at the highest levels of the Big Ten.”
“I am really good friends with Conor,” Dell said. “I didn’t know him as well before he got to Iowa, but we swam together for a couple of summers before he came here. Since then we have become really good friends. At our club I am always training with him and some of the other guys. In the summer it is really nice to have them there to keep pushing me and it makes me try to keep up with them even though it can be hard.”
“They are both exceptional leaders and athletes for our team,” Long added. “They have shown a tireless work ethic and determination and I have seen great time drops. They are both leaders by example — quiet, hardworking, determined and very matter-of-fact, which I like as a coach. Both of them have similar characteristics and ironically they come from the same club back home.”
In just one season as a collegian, Dwyer has continued a string of success that commenced during his senior season at the Loyola Academy. His successful campaign in high school helped him to captain honors and team most valuable player. Dwyer certainly did not take any steps back when he entered college as he was named MVP after his first season as a Hawkeye. He is a letterwinner and is now one of four captains entering the 2008-09 season.
Dwyer’s accomplishments in high school go beyond being named MVP and captain. He was named all-section and all-league his senior year. Dwyer was the league 200 freestyle champion (1:44.03) and runner-up in the 500 free (4:45.15). He also dominated competition in varsity water polo as he was named third team all-state and first team all-section, all-region and all-league honors.
Dwyer’s distinguished honors propelled him on a hot streak when he came to Iowa. His name is already scribbled into the record book at the UI, ranking fourth all-time in the 100 free. The spotlight has been good for Dwyer, as three-fourths of his best times in freestyle have come during the Big Ten Championships — the 100 free (44.66), 200 free (1:36.44) and 500 free (4:27.21). His best in the 50 free came at the Ohio State Invitational (20.96).
“We have high expectations for all of the athletes. Our program is in a phase of still being a young team and in a rebuilding process. It is going to take a little more than talent. It is going to take some patience and determination. Conor will really lead the team to not only competing at the highest levels of the Big Ten but also the country. He has aspirations of competing at a higher level.”
UI head coach Marc Long
“I like to compete against any Big Ten team in general,” Dwyer said. “I probably like playing Wisconsin the most because my dad went there. I get really pumped up for the Big Ten Championships with all of the conference schools being there. It comes down to the end of the season, it is a long season, so you are just excited to be there and ready to swim fast.”
The Hawkeye captain met the NCAA provisional qualifying standards in the 200 free (1:36.44) a year ago, which he considers his best event. He won 10 meets and had three runner-up finishes in 2008.
“Conor is only going to be a sophomore and he achieved a provisional time in just his freshman year with tremendous time drops,” Long said.
Dwyer credits his parents Patrick and Jeanne Dwyer for helping him get to where he is at now as a Division I student-athlete. Jeanne is no stranger to swimming as she too swam at Florida State.
“She (Jeanne) was a really good influence,” Dwyer said. “She is not one of those really strict swimmer parents. She is pretty laid back. She taught me how to swim and never really critiques my swimming, which is nice. She has always been there for me.”
The Hawkeyes have a lot of youth on the men’s roster with no seniors in 2007-08 and there will only be four seniors in 2008-09. They have a long road ahead of them with a lot of work to fulfill.
“We have high expectations for all of the athletes,” Long said. “Our program is in a phase of still being a young team and in a rebuilding process. It is going to take a little more than talent. It is going to take some patience and determination. Conor will really lead the team to not only competing at the highest levels of the Big Ten but also the country. He has aspirations of competing at a higher level.”
Long has nothing but the utmost confidence in his rising swimming star and knows that Dwyer will continue to improve every year because he has all of the tools to do so.
“It feels good to know that he (Coach Long) is confident in my swimming ability,” Dwyer said. “Hopefully next season I can help lead the team in a move up in the Big Ten standings.”
Dwyer hopes to break his own personal bests as well, but even if he gets similar numbers to his freshman season, the Hawkeyes will be in great shape heading into the Big Ten Championships.
And the Big Ten Championships is traditionally when Dwyer is at the top of his game.