A year from now, we’ll be entering the first NCAA swimming season ever without the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Iowa announced today that it would be eliminating its swimming & diving programs at the end of the 2020-2021 school year – two of four programs being cut to address what the school estimated at about $100 million in lost revenue during the coronavirus pandemic.
Established in 1917 – two full decades before the first-ever NCAA Swimming & Diving Championship – Iowa’s men’s swim & dive program is one of the oldest in the nation. This season would mark the 103rd year of Hawkeye swimming & diving.
In the early years of NCAA swimming, Iowa was a national power. The Hawkeyes were NCAA runners-up in 1949, heading 17 finishes inside the top-10 under legendary head coach Dave Armbruster. An NCAA 400 free relay title in 1936 puts Iowa in elite historical company as one of just 24 programs in history to win an NCAA men’s relay title. (It’s also the fourth on that list to cut its men’s program).
Armbruster is widely credited as one of the pioneers of one entire competitive stroke. In the 1930s, swimmers and coaches started to experiment with an alternative technique to breaststroke, reducing draft by using an above-water arm recovery. Armbruster is widely credited with developing the dolphin kick to go along with the over-water recovery, effectively debuting the earliest version of the butterfly stroke along with Iowa swimmer Jack Sieg.
The stroke would eventually be established as its own stroke, separate from breastroke, in 1952.
Iowa twice built one of the nation’s premier aquatic centers. In 1927, the University built the Field House Pool, at the time a state-of-the-art facility that housed the Hawkeyes until 2010. That year, the school unveiled its Campus Recreation and Wellness Center, which would go on to host multiple Big Ten events along with the men’s NCAA Championships in 2015.
That facility is also set to host the 2021 Men’s NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships, which is scheduled to be the final meet for Iowa’s historic swimming program, 103 years after its origins.
- Wally Ris, swimmer, USA (1948) – gold medalist, 100 free & 4×200 free relay
- Lincoln Hurring, swimmer, New Zealand (1952, 1956)
- Bowen Strassforth, swimmer, USA (1952) – silver medalist, 200 breast
- Brent Brask, swimmer, Norway (1976)
- Ricardo Camacho, diver, Spain (1976, 1980, 1984)
- Brett Naylor, swimmer, New Zealand (1976)
- Randy Ableman, diver, USA (1980)
- Graeme Brewer, swimmer, Australia (1980) – bronze medalist, 200 free
- Ron McKeon, swimmer, Australia (1980, 1984)
- John Davey, swimmer, England (1988, 1992)
- Tomasz Rossa, diver, Poland (1988)
- Bob Rydze, coach, Poland (1988)
- Rafal Szukala, swimmer, Poland (1988, 1992, 1996) – silver medalist, 100 fly in 1992
- Artur Wojdat, swimmer, Poland (1988, 1992) – bronze medalist, 400 free in 1988
- Brad Flood, coach, Poland (1992)
- Loredana Zisu, swimmer, Romania (1996)
- Marko Milenkovic, swimmer, Slovenia (2000, 2004)
- Nacilea (Underwood) Foster, diver, USA (2008)
- Heather Arseth, swimmer, Mauritius (2012)
- Dragos Agache, swimmer, Romania (2012)
While Iowa doesn’t recognize Conor Dwyer as a “Hawkeye Olympian,” he did spend his freshman and sophomores seasons at Iowa before transferring to his more prominent career at Florida. Dwyer owns 3 Olympic medals: golds in the 800 free relays in 2012 and 2016, plus an individual bronze in the 200 free in Rio in 2016.