Wistey masters breaststroke, nears finish of career


Senior Imelda Wistey practices the breaststroke in Beyer Pool on March 11. Wistey is considered the top breaststroker in ISU history. 

Kyle Heim

When she first began swimming competitively, senior Imelda Wistey could not swim breaststroke properly, and hated it. Today, Wistey is the best breastroke swimmer in ISU history.

Wistey said breastroke was difficult for her to pick up at first and there were days when she absolutely hated it. Today, she loves everything about it.

When she was 10-years-old, Wistey began swimming. Her younger sister loved the sport more than she did, but her mother made her try it.

Iowa State tried recruiting Wistey out of Valley High School in West Des Moines, but she chose to attend Grinnell College.

“I really did love Grinnell,” Wistey said. “I loved the academics and I loved everything about Grinnell, but if I wanted to achieve the goals I wanted in swimming, I had to go to a program where I could get the training that I needed.”

ISU coach Duane Sorenson was upset that Wistey chose Grinnell at the time, but left the offer on the table in case she changed her mind.

“We told her that the door was always open at Iowa State, if things didn’t work out at Grinnell,” Sorenson said. “When she was released from Grinnell, then we were able to contact her. We were very happy to have her as part of the team, because we knew she had tremendous up-side, both as an athlete and student, and she would be a great benefit to our program.”

During her freshman year at Grinnell, Wistey broke the school record in the 100-yard breastroke, 200-yard breastroke and the 200 IM. She also earned All-America honors in the 100-yard breastroke at the NCAA Division III National Swimming and Diving Championships.

One of the biggest reasons Wistey decided to transfer to Iowa State was because the Cyclones have one of the top breastroke programs.

“I knew I couldn’t just muscle through the breastroke anymore, and I needed some technique work,” Wistey said. “There were some days where I absolutely hated the breastroke, but now I completely and totally love the breastroke and want to continue to do my best in it.”

During her career as a Cyclone, Wistey learned how to train at an elite level, worked on how to approach a race, and when she was swimming a race, how to swim it the proper way and stay focused.

At Iowa State, Wistey broke school records in the 100-yard breastroke and 200-yard breastroke. Both records came this season on the same night against Iowa. It was the second time Wistey broke the school record in the 100 breast during her swimming career for the Cyclones.

Wistey said the most memorable moment of her swimming career at Iowa State took place at the Big 12 Championships.

“This conference meet, we got third,” Wistey said. “That was a goal that we really had, and wanted for such a long time. I’m blessed to be a part of the team that could achieve that. “

Wistey received an invitation last Wednesday to compete in the 2014 NCAA Championships. This is the first time in her career she will compete at the event, and the first ISU swimmer to get invited since 2010. 

The event will take place March 20-22 in Minneapolis, Minn. Wistey will compete in the 100 and 200 breastroke.