Hawkeyes Take Step Forward

April 1, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Since taking over the reigns as the head coach for Hawkeye swimming and diving, Marc Long has strived to build a program that can consistently qualify and score at the NCAA Championships. The Hawkeyes took a step forward in that direction in 2010-11, as six student-athletes garnered All-America honors.

“When we met at the beginning of the year, we were just an up-and-coming program and making the NCAAs seem far-fetched,” said Long, who is in his seventh season with the program. “Our goal was to not just make it, but score, and we did achieve that, which is what garnered us All-America honors.”

The Iowa men’s swimming and diving team had the 400-meter relay advance to the event final, where the quartet of Duncan Partridge, Ryan Phelan, Jordan Huff and Paul Gordon finished 15th to earn All-America honors.

The group was the first Hawkeye relay of any kind to garner All-America honors since the 1995 season. That year, Iowa earned the honor in the 200-freestyle relay, 400-freestyle relay, 400-medley relay and 800-freestyle relay.

The four individuals are also the first Iowa swimmers (excludes divers) to earn All-America honors since 2000 when Ales Abersek received the honor in the 100 and 200-fly events.

“This is the first men’s relay and first All-American, period, since 2000,” said Long, who was a six-time All-American himself during his career as a student-athlete at Iowa. “This is a big step for our program because this is the meet you want to be at.

“We want to be able to build a program that is going there every year and move up in the standings in the future.”

The odds of the Hawkeyes qualifying and moving up the NCAA standings is far greater considering all four of the All-Americans return to the squad next season. Partridge, Phelan and Gordon will be seniors in 2011-12, while Huff returns for his junior campaign.

“That’s key with our developmental process to have them back because we’re also hosting the Big Ten Championships here (at the Campus Wellness and Recreation Center), which is our qualifying meet for NCAAs,” said Long. It also helps that they came back from this meet motivated with all of our younger guys… it helps build a foundation of expectations.”

The women’s swimming and diving program boasted two All-America selections at the 2011 NCAA Championships. Deidre Freeman earned the accolade on both the one and three-meter springboards, while Veronica Rydze received the honor on the one-meter.

It is only the second time in program history that multiple divers have earned All-America honors in the same season.

“That’s great to see for our women’s program,” said Long. “Veronica is coming back next year, so it’s an exciting time. It’s getting back to the root of our goals to be at the NCAA meet and to score as a team.”

The Hawkeyes not only took a step forward in the pool this season, but the program continued excelling in the classroom. Twenty student-athletes from the men’s and women’s teams were named to the Big Ten Winter Academic all-Conference teams.

“It’s nice to see them rewarded for the dedication they have and the structure they give themselves to excel in the pool and classroom,” said Long. “To get 20 from our team on that list is significant and shows the dedication that our student-athletes have.”