The Wait is Over for Roemer


Sept. 2, 2015

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    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. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.


    IOWA CITY, Iowa — Tom Roemer has been waiting for a call to the National Iowa Varsity Athletics Hall of Fame, and now he’s basking in the accomplishment.

    The former University of Iowa men’s swimming standout is one of seven 2015 Hall of Fame inductees, along with Don Norton (football), Neil Schmitt (men’s gymnastics), Lori Cole (women’s gymnastics), Jim Heffernan (wrestling), Karen Jackson (softball), and Bill Brashier (football coach).


    “I was excited when I received word,” said Roemer. “I have been on the ballot for the last three to four years… to be nominated and inducted is a neat feeling.”

    Growing up in Bettendorf, Iowa, Roemer was a highly sought after swimmer during his prep career at Bettendorf High School. He ranked second in the nation in two events, drawing recruitment from schools across the country, including Southern Methodist, Southern California, and Indiana.

    When push came to shove, his heart was in Iowa City because of his familiarity with the University of Iowa and head coach Glen Patton.

    “Winning those Big Ten Championships are my top college memories. Winning the title at the Field House was special. I don’t think anything could compare to that… it was cream of the crop.”
    UI Hall of Famer Tom Roemer

    “I swam the three previous summers (before college) at Iowa’s intensive swimming camp, where I was there for six to 10 weeks training with coach Patton and (assistant) coach (George) Villa. We even lived in the dorms,” said Roemer, who lettered for the UI from 1980-83, 1984. “I knew the staff, coaches, and university, so it was easy going there after high school because I had spent so much time there.

    “Coach Patton was a heck of a recruiter. He convinced me to go, but didn’t have to work too hard. He was a great coach.”

    The highlight of Roemer’s career came during his sophomore and junior seasons when Iowa was atop the podium at consecutive Big Ten Championships. Indiana had won 20 straight league crowns before Iowa broke through with a team title in 1981, edging the Hoosiers, 710.5 points to 689.5.

    A year later, the Hawkeyes took home a second straight Big Ten championship in convincing fashion, while swimming in their home Field House Pool. Iowa finished with 721 points and crowned 19 Big Ten champions.

    “Winning those Big Ten Championships are my top college memories,” said Roemer. “Winning the title at the Field House was special. I don’t think anything could compare to that… it was cream of the crop.”

    Roemer finished his career as a 12-time NCAA All-American and a 10-time Big Ten champion in the 100 and 200 backstroke, 200 IM, and as a member of the 400-medley and 800 freestyle relays.

    “My backstroke was my main and favorite event even though I was an IMer,” said Roemer. “One summer, my 200 IM and 200 back ranked in the top 20 in the world. Outside of the Big Ten meets and winning the events we did, getting into the top 20 was something I am proud of.”

    Roemer followed in his parent’s footsteps when he landed at the UI. His father earned both an undergraduate and graduate degree at the University of Iowa to become an orthodontist, and his mother earned a law degree from the UI.

    “It’s phenomenal to go to the same university for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees,” said Roemer, who owns his own dental practice — Interstate Dental in Walcott, Iowa. “Add in the history with my family… we have a lot of black and gold going through our lines; it is fun to keep that running in the family.”

    Roemer keeps his pulse on the Iowa program 30 years after his swimming career came to a close. He attended two days of the NCAA Championships last season as a proud alum.

    “It’s neat when you have the biggest meet of the year at your alma mater,” he said. “To see the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center and the program being showcased on a national stage was great.”

    Roemer is looking forward to going through the Hall of Fame festivities with his family and friends in attendance. He will have a contingent of 30 strong at the induction ceremony, including his wife, Amy, and his four children — Michael, Lauren, Samantha, and Christopher.

    “It is an honor to be in the Hall of Fame with my coach (Glen Patton) and all the wonderful athletes before me,” he said. “It’s neat to be in a class of athletes recognized at the University of Iowa.

    “This is an honor for me and it’s something my wife, kids, and family should be proud of.”

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