Iowa Will Enter 2021-2022 Swimming & Diving Season With Just 12 Athletes

The University of Iowa women’s swimming & diving team may have won its battle for reinstatement (even if the men’s team didn’t), but that doesn’t mean that the program wasn’t still devastated by the initial decision to cut the team.

The school is only expecting to have 12 athletes on its 2021-2022 team – 8 swimmers and 4 divers. That includes just one freshman, diver Makayla Hughbanks. A spokesperson for the school has confirmed that the 12 athletes listed publicly are all that the team is expecting on the varsity roster this season.

Number of athletes on Iowa women’s swimming & diving roster, by year:

  • 2021-2022: 12 – 8 swimmers & 4 divers
  • 2020-2021: 24 – 22 swimmers & 2 divers
  • 2019-2020: 34 – 30 swimmers & 4 divers
  • 2018-2019: 24 – 18 swimmers & 6 divers
  • 2017-2018: 32 – 26 swimmers & 6 divers
  • 2016-2017: 31 – 25 swimmers & 6 divers

Based on the currently-public rosters for each season.

While 2018-2019 saw a smaller roster, in general, Iowa has had a low-30s roster, which is a similar size to most of their Big Ten opponents.

But for next season, as they try to rebuild in the same beautiful facility but with a new coaching staff (Nathan Mundt and Mona Groteguth-Garcia) and no men’s team, the Hawkeyes will be significantly short-handed.

Iowa finished 8th out of 13 teams at last year’s Big Ten Championship meet. While the return of 20-point diving scorer Sam Tamborski as the team’s only senior helps, only 49.5 of the team’s 216 individual points from last season will return. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be in last place at Big Tens – Illinois only scored 15 individual points at Big Tens last season – but even with no Michigan State, it will be hard for them to crack the Top 10 again in a deep conference.

Note: Rutgers, which was last at last year’s Big Ten Championships, only had a few athletes competing because of COVID-19. Rutgers is expecting 15 swimmers and 6 divers this season – still a small roster by their standard, but that will push them down the rebuilding path further.

Of note, among the four swimmers who were named plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the University of Iowa that said cutting the program would infringe upon Title IX, none are returning. Sage Ohlensehlen graduated and is attending law school at SMU. Christina Kaufman, a would-be junior, has not announced her plans. Alexa Puccini is a junior on the roster at Arizona, while school record holder Kelsey Drake also graduated.

Both a spokesperson for the University of Iowa and new head coach Mundt declined to discuss the roster, or plans to regrow it, with SwimSwam.

Iowa women’s swimming & diving roster, 2021-2022 season:

  • Sam Tamborski, Sr., Diving
  • Ariel Wooden, Jr., Free/Fly
  • Anna Brooker, Jr., Free/Back
  • Payton Lange, Jr., Free/Back
  • Aleksandra Olesiak, Jr., Breast/IM
  • Kennedy Gilbertson, Jr., Back/Free/Fly
  • Georgia Clark, Jr., Back
  • Zoe Pawloski, Jr., Back
  • Maddie Black, So., Free
  • Sarah Ballard, So., Diving
  • Claire Hartley, So., Diving
  • Makayla Hughbanks, Fr., Diving

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1 month ago

Open Question:

How would you rebuild it? It’s a big campus, I imagine there’s students that are 25 50 free, 1:00 or so 100 back/fly etc just walking around. Do you seek out and bring on a bunch of below B1G level swimmers to fill out B/C relays in duals? Or would you worry that having too many swimmers below the talent range you needs detracts from what you get done with your recruited athletes? I’d really want a fuller roster, even if the talent was a little lower.

Do you just chalk this season up as a wash/restart? The obvious fact is that this new staff needs to recruit both volume and talent in a HURRY. Iowa should be… Read more »

Reply to  NONA
1 month ago

I really think quality over quantity would be the best mindset. This new coaching staff needs to take advantage of the smaller group for this year and do an awesome job developing the athletes they have and the culture of this “new” team – that’s how you become attractive to higher-level athletes. Bringing in 25 50 fr/1:00 back/flyers won’t do anything for you at the Big 10 conference level unless there’s some ridiculous untapped potential there, and at the end of the day it’s the championship season that really matters.

Wishing the staff and current team the best of luck. If they do this right (and hopefully have actual support from the Iowa Athletic Director) they have the chance to… Read more »

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

Agreed. With the fifth year available to all swimmers, you could potentially get some good swimmers who could get their 1st year of grad school at least partially paid for. Even if you have them for only one year coach could avoid blowouts in dual meets and develop a track record. Swimmers recruit other swimmers.

Reply to  MickeyMouse
1 month ago

I wonder what the scholarship dollars look like before (assume they were fully funded) vs what they are funding the program at now

Jim L
Reply to  NONA
1 month ago

Get an age group team (if there isn’t one already), with a good technique coaching staff, built up at the same facility. It’s a public university so in state residents with a high school diploma have a good shot of getting in.

Reply to  Jim L
1 month ago

Good plan for long term development. Hosting clinics etc

DP Spellman
Reply to  NONA
1 month ago

The focus should be on the Central Zone (mainly upper Midwest) and then some high end foreign talent given the Hawkeyes projected recruiting budget.

I don’t envy Coach Nate’s road the next two seasons but I think he is up to the task.

Reply to  NONA
1 month ago

The mechanics of rebuilding is almost irrelevant; the problem is with the lack of confidence in the university’s commitment to student athletes. What promising swimmer would want to join the program if she can’t be reasonably sure that it wouldn’t be cut again in a year or two? After all, Title IX is about equality between women’s and men’s programs. The university reinstated the women’s swimming program in the face of the Title IX lawsuit. Who’s to say that the university won’t cut it again, just with another men’s program cut as well?

1 month ago

Mona…. sorry, I mean Nona,

Why don’t you create your own recruiting strategy instead of straw polling the swimswam public?

Reply to  Wetness
1 month ago

? I know what I’d do, and I pretty much said it. Seems like a weird response, but fine. I am not the assistant coach there, I’ve used this username on the swimswam board for ages.

Last edited 1 month ago by NONA
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

Thanks haha

Coach Macgyver
1 month ago

That’s some VIP training. Go get em Iowa.

1 month ago

Shame on you Iowa!!

Furious Hawk
1 month ago

They will get next to no support from the A/D who only resurrected the team when he was told they would lose the lawsuit for sure if they did not reinstate the team. Iowa is still at risk for losing the lawsuit. Perhaps the best facility in the nation, the site of the invention of the butterfly, and this disaster at the hands of a lying, misogynist, homophobic athletic director.

Brad Flood
Reply to  Furious Hawk
1 month ago


From a former Hawkeye Men’s Asst. Coach & coach of the most decorated NCAA Hawkeye swimmer in history.

Still, and Forever, absolutely DISGUSTED with the U of Iowa Administration, from President & Board, down to Athletic Administration.

My Iowa graduate degree is tarnished, due to the ridiculous decisions made at this institution of “higher education”(???) by the administration, from the top, on down!!!

DP Spellman
1 month ago

This problem is squarely Gary Barta’s fault as the Iowa AD. The ongoing festering ethical mess that is the Iowa Athletic Department under Barta’s leadership (lack thereof) and his attention to nothing outside of the Football, Basketball, and Wrestling programs lead to this situation. It took a lawsuit just to get this women’s program back in action and feet dragging lead to the new Head Coach not being hired until June while the uncertainty of the situation lead many possible Midwest recruits to look elsewhere.

New UI Coach Nate Mundt has an uphill job the next three recruiting cycles but he’s been doing the footwork at swim meets and putting in the hours making the phone calls. I just… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by DP Spellman
Brad Flood
Reply to  DP Spellman
1 month ago

In FULL agreement Mr. Spellman 👍👌👏👏👏

Please feel free to Open those closet doors and let those skeletons Speak out!!!

Masters Swammer
1 month ago

Wow, that’s really hard!

Looks like they have exactly one breaststroker and zero distance freestylers on the team. Will make for a challenging dual meet season.

I also wonder what the training environment will be like. On the upside, everyone gets their own lane. On the downside, they can’t really create cohesive training groups (“distance lane” or “breaststroke group”) with so few people. Seems like it would be lonely.

1 month ago

Agreed You might be able to bring a foreign swimmer (s) even for 2nd semester. Canadians are used to the weather See who is transfer portal. Who is taking gap year. Swimmers in Junior College (Indian River etc). Open tryouts for on campus students.
Great pool. Good university. He can sell opportunities Heck of a challenge.

Reply to  Austinpoolboy
1 month ago

Maybe try to get some graduate students with 5th-year eligibility. One gift of the Pandemic is the over-supply of eligible student athletes.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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