Current and former members of Iowa swim team call reinstatement ‘bittersweet’

Published: Feb. 16, 2021 at 10:50 PM CST
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - The Swimming and Diving roster looks quite a bit different than it did back in September. After it was announced the program would be cut, one by one, student athletes began to transfer. Grace Reeder is one those people.

“A lot of us just said, you know, we’re not ready to let go of our dreams and since we can’t do that at Iowa, we want to find somewhere else,” Reeder said on Tuesday.

Reeder is now a swimmer at the University of Arizona and got word Monday from her former teammates that Iowa had reversed its decision.

“It took me back to that day in August, you know, in that big practice gym and the impersonal feeling of it and how cold Gary Barta was,” Reeder said.

The reflection of past agony didn’t come to just Reeder.

“It was kind of nerve-wracking because we haven’t heard from him or seen him since the day he decided to cut our sports,” said senior swimmer Kelsey Drake.

Drake says she gives Barta credit for showing up in person and answering questions for over a hour.

“He could have easily just like sent us over an email, so we’re taking baby steps to gain back that trust,” Drake said.

As a Marion native, black and gold have been colors Drake always dreamed of wearing.

“I was a Hawkeye fan my whole life,” Drake said. “Going through this, it’s a lot harder to put on an Iowa shirt. I’m not as prideful.”

Drake, who is a part of the pending lawsuit against the athletic department, says she doesn’t think this reversal would’ve happened without the legal matter and she worries about what lays ahead for the program.

“If I was in high school and I saw this happen, I would not come to Iowa. As a recruit you don’t want to go to a school that doesn’t seem to care about your sport,” Drake said.

Both Drake and Reeder said they feel bittersweet about the reinstatement. They are happy that teammates and coaches will stick around but angry that the program is seemingly in an un-winnable position to compete.

At one time, seeing the Hawkeye logo made them happy. Things are different now.

“The Hawkeye logo does bring up some still some anger, if I’m being honest, but that doesn’t stem from the swim team and ultimately I’ll always feel that sense of pride for being a part of the Hawkeye swim team,” Reeder said.

“I just had so much passion and pride in the Tigerhawk, it’s sad because I just can’t look at it the same,” Drake said. “I don’t want to put on my Iowa shirt. I don’t want to go and swim and represent them but at the same time I do because it’s for my team and my teammates.”

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