24: Tour Feels at Home Where There's Water

April 14, 2010

Editor’s note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Wednesday, Aug. 12, 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 2009-10 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 Lindsay Douglas

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Katarina Tour, native of Stockholm, Sweden, finds a home wherever the water is. Coming from a family of competitive swimmers, she was practically born with gills. Tour now holds several spots on University of Iowa’s record board.

UI head coach Marc Long was actually recruiting another woman from Sweden when he learned about Tour.

“Because it’s not a very big country, through things like the internet, we were able to get her name,” Long said. “Then I did a visit to her home town in Stockholm and met the entire family.”

Tour wasn’t recruited until the end of April, right before she graduated.

“If I didn’t come to Iowa, I didn’t really have set plans on what happened next. I probably would have just kept swimming and worked,” said Tour, now a junior at the UI.

In Sweden, sports are completely separate from school.

“The team concept is new to her because they only have club swimming in Europe,” Long said. “So she has a new understanding of that now and she’s really bought into it.”

In her three seasons at Iowa, Tour has realized this as well.

“The coaches, along with the team, push me,” Tour said. “I’ve learned that everybody on a team depends on each other and that I wouldn’t be (as successful) without them.”

As the oldest member of the team, Tour obviously has pressure to lead and she does so by example.

“What’s nice about Kat is that she has a lot of competitive experience,” Long said. “She’s competed internationally and that kind of exposure on our team really helps.”

In her time at Iowa, Tour has become more diversified. According to Long, she’s open to more events that she hadn’t competed in before.

Approaching her final season, Long and Tour have the same goal in mind: to qualify for the NCAA championships.

“The coaches, along with the team, push me. I’ve learned that everybody on a team depends on each other and that I wouldn’t be (as successful) without them.”
UI junior Katarina Tour

“It really is my only goal,” Tour said. “Freshman year I was three-10ths of a second away, sophomore year, two-10ths, and this last season it was something like four or five-10ths. I know I can do it, that’s why it’s so frustrating.”

Long said that Tour is about as close to being an NCAA qualifier as you can get. As far as the team goes, Long is looking for her to continue to be a leader to the incoming freshman class of 15 or 16 new swimmers.

“It’s completely a rebuilding year for us, so it’s appropriate that we will be in a new facility,” Long said.

Although he doesn’t like to use the current pool as an excuse, he admits that there are several setbacks. It’s terribly hot, which makes the temperature of the water like a bathtub. The swimmers aren’t even fazed anymore when the fire alarms go off, which is regularly. And the pool they practice in is two meters short of regulation. Even with these obstacles, the team was able to finish with a won-loss record that challenged .500.

“Our big wins (this season) were against University of Illinois and Michigan State,” Long said. “We actually have one more meet this weekend, the Alumni Meet.”

Tour matter-of-factly stated that the Big Ten Conference championship was her favorite meet.

“It was the one meet we all out tapered for and it’s the qualifier meet for NCAA,” Tour said. “It’s still frustrating to me that I didn’t make it.”

When reflecting on the rest of the season Tour said, “Really, I look back on it and there were a lot of positive things, sometimes it just didn’t feel that way because I just didn’t have those perfect races like I’m use to.”

“What’s nice about Kat is that she has a lot of competitive experience. She’s competed internationally and that kind of exposure on our team really helps.”
UI head coach Marc Long

By this Tour means she didn’t break records like she had the previous two years. At Iowa , she holds the record for the 100-meter breaststroke (1:01.45), 100 butterfly (54.61) and the 200 IM (2:01.33). She was also on the record-setting relays for the 200 medley (1:41.33) and 400 free (3:21.27).

Having such a young team, Long realizes the importance of leadership next year, but isn’t worried about these girls.

“It’s a group of incredible women,” Long said. “This year we had 17 women receive Academic All-Conference in the Big Ten. This is a new record for Iowa.”

Tour was among those 17.

“She’s competitive in the pool as well as the classroom,” Long said.

As for plans after the college, Tour said she started her career in Sweden and that’s where she wants to finish it. Although it may not necessarily be at the same commitment level, swimming will always be apart of her life. Tour’s mother, father, all three siblings, and cousins are swimmers, which is where she was first influenced. To be this far away from her family was harder than she thought it would be.

“I didn’t want to admit it at the beginning but I miss them,” Tour said. “In the end you just have to realize that this is the situation right now and deal with it. I’m so thankful for the technology we have now, with things like Skype and e-mail it’s easy to stay in touch.”

With her success at Iowa thus far, it’s easy to see why Tour is anything but a fish out of water. No matter how far from her family she is.