BY JAKE KRZECZOWSKI | JUNE 18, 2009 7:21 AM
When Iowa swimming head coach Marc Long came to the Hawkeyes’ summer camp in 1983, the program was the hottest team in the Big Ten, fresh off back-to-back Big Ten championships in 1981 and 1982. Since then, Long earned himself six All-American awards and two Big Ten championships as a Hawkeye, and he now finds himself running the camp for the fourth year.
The camp, which is held at the Field House pool, is made up of two sessions for kids between the ages of 9 and 17, with this week being the first of the two.
Each day consists of two-to-three training sessions a day, a mix of everything from dryland training to time in the pool, where the campers are able to get hands-on help from the Iowa coaching staff and athletes.
Growing up in Cedar Falls, Long was a self-described “small-town kid” whose team didn’t have the kind of things a Big Ten university could provide. Through the weeklong camp, he hopes to provide that for kids with similar backgrounds.
“We do a lot of things that these kids don’t have access to with their home teams,” Long said.
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One of those is a personal DVD of the swimmer that the coaches take to analyze their stroke and work out any kinks in order to improve. Also, there are presentations on nutrition and strength training for the campers to participate in.
When Long came to the camp 26 years ago, he remembers being amazed at the college facilities and the attention he got during his time there.
“I still think it’s a neat experience to come to a university facility and experience and see the different ways we can coach,” Long said.
Accompanying the coaching staff with the campers are some of Long’s Hawkeye swimmers. Junior Hilary Leigh is helping out with the camp while staying on campus during the summer months.
“It’s interesting coming from the collegiate level and having to simplify things so much,” Leigh said. “We’re trying to really break down every element of each stroke to make it as good as possible.”
The difference comes in the intricacy with which Division-I swimmers critique their own stroke and technique. By comparison, the younger swimmers are just learning the proper way to get themselves through the water.
During Long’s visit, the Iowa pool was one of the best in the Big Ten. Now, while young swimmers methodically glide through the water back-and-forth through their lanes to the soundtrack of their coach’s stern instruction, it is easy to tell the new facility being built is eagerly anticipated.
“The place is a bit antiquated,” Long said.
For now though, the camp will continue to go on in the same place that Long came to for extra instruction over two decades ago with the hope the camp might help one of the 150 campers in attendance to a similar road of success