Swimming with Urgency

Dec. 21, 2012

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s January edition of Hawk Talk Monthly, the UI athletics department’s online publication.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa senior Byron Butler is swimming with a sense of urgency in 2012-13, and his early season performance is indicative of that attitude.

“This is my last year,” said Butler. “I am trying to have fun. I am going to miss swimming, so I am trying to enjoy the last few months, and that is reflective of my performances.”

The New Berlin, Wis., native posted five top-three finishes at the three-day Hawkeye Invitational inside the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center on Nov. 30 through Dec. 2. He posted runner-up finishes in the 200 backstroke and the 200 and 400 medley relays, while finishing third in the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly.

Butler swam personal bests in all three individual events, touching the wall in 47.48 in the 100 fly, 47.62 in the 100 backstroke and 1:43.97 in the 200 backstroke. All three are the second fastest in school history and NCAA “B” cut times. Butler also swam the butterfly leg of the 400 medley relay that touched out in an NCAA provisional time of 3:12.71.

“Those school records he is nipping at — like the 100 fly — are not slow records,” said UI head coach Marc Long. “When that record was set (in 1994), Rafal Szukala won NCAAs. It shows his progress. It is exciting to be getting close to those benchmarks this time of the season, knowing that his peak meet has yet to come.”

Butler says the times come from hours of training and the change in the way he approaches competitions.

“They stem from the hard work and racing mentality we have as Hawkeye swimmers,” said Butler. “It has taken me awhile in my career where I got to the point where I don’t think about times ever. I truly race the guys next to me.

“With opponents like Michigan and Denver in here, I know if I am even close to those guys or if I am racing to win, I know the times will follow.”

Long says Butler’s progression as a swimmer can be traced to his determination.

“Byron came into our program as a developing swimmer,” said Long. “He’s very driven. He has gotten more proficient and is stronger and more confident. Overall, it’s his determination that really helps take him to another level in all areas.”

Butler traces his improvement from his work in the weight room.

“Strength in the weight room has helped me succeed more, and being obsessed with my technique,” said Butler. “Every stroke, I think about where my hand is. Without that, I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I have.”

As his days as a Hawkeye wind down, Butler is aiming to extend his swimming career into late March in Indianapolis.

“I want to reach NCAAs,” said Butler. “That is pretty much my only goal. In the past, a lot of my goals were time-oriented. Now I don’t have any times in my goals. I need consistency every day, consistency with my attitude day in and day out. Staying relaxed will help me get there.”

Long says Butler has all the things going for him to achieve his goal.

“He is very confident, which is what you want from your athletes,” said Long. “He’s going to work at all the things necessary to be an elite athlete. He is right on path to peak at the right time as a senior at his championship meets.”