Sena Graham: The Newest Hawkeye

April 13, 2013

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — During Saturday’s Long Course Intrasquad Meet, the University of Iowa women’s swimming and diving team added a new team member.

Sena Graham, an 11-year old from North Liberty, Iowa, became the newest Hawkeye, joining the program through Team Impact, an organization that teams children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses by matching them with college athletic teams. Graham is suffering from a form of eye cancer.

“Team Impact is a tremendous organization, and we’re excited about having Sena on our team for her and our team,” said UI head coach Marc Long. “We look forward to a long relationship with her as we progress through the seasons.”

A six-member advocate group of Hawkeyes brought Graham out for frozen yogurt Friday night before the team welcomed her to the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center for Saturday’s meet. The program issued Graham with the complete team apparel, including a warm up, sweat suit and t-shirts.

UI associate head coach Frannie Malone approached the Hawkeyes about participating in Team Impact a few weeks ago, and sophomore Hannah Maher said it was an easy decision.

“Frannie came to us at a team meeting and immediately, I was like yes,” said Maher, a breaststroker from Decorah, Iowa. “This could be one of the best things our team has ever done in general in affecting our lives and her life.

“We got to know her on a personal level and actually got to talk to her (last night). We’re really excited and hope she is going to be a great member of our team.”

Long says the Hawkeyes have welcomed Graham to the team with open arms.

“They have really embraced it,” said Long. “They want to get to know her, and we can all be a team together.”

Maher says the relationship will be mutually beneficial to both parties.

“It’s going to benefit us in numerous ways,” she said. “We’re going to be able to be more aware of her disease and the hardships, while being able to motivate her and get through it will be really good.”