Swimmers face uncertainties for the future

Emily Arthur

In the past few months, members of the ISU men’s swimming and diving team has faced many tough decisions as to what their futures will hold.

The decision to cut the program has many of the student-athletes deciding to transfer while others have decided to stay at Iowa State and give up swimming.

Aron Nakama said that making the choice over what to do was perhaps the hardest decision he’s had to make. After struggling with the prospect of giving up swimming, he’s decided to stay at Iowa State to finish his degree in Engineering Science and will be attempting to swim by himself during the fall of 2001.

“I do not appreciate being forced into retirement over something I have been doing for the past 14 and a half years,” Nakama said. “More importantly, that team was my family taken away from me.”

Nakama describes swimming as a maturing process in which he’s learned “many valuable life lessons.”

He said that the best lesson he’s learned came from head swimming coach Trip Hedrick.

“He [Hedrick] told me that the decisions you make when things are not going your way determines whether or not you will be successful in life,” Nakama said. “The right decision for me is to stay and finish my degree.”

Others such as Morgan Hagerman, don’t know exactly what they’re going to do yet.

“The choice between my friends and my sport has been tearing at my soul,” Hagerman said. “I know now what it is to care for a team as a family.”

Hagerman said that wherever he ends up, he’d like for his teammates to know that his experiences with them have helped him become a better person and that he will always remember them.

Sydney, Australia native, Jono Newton, said that he’s decided to transfer.

“I have signed with Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas for next year,” Newton said. “I am very happy with this. They have a strong team and great facilities.”

ISU junior Liam Short is one more athlete that won’t be returning to Iowa State next year.

Short has enrolled in the Architecture program at the University of Adelaide, South Australia where he said that at least he’d have the opportunity to swim and continue his studies.

“Nothing could be worse than being forced into giving up something you love so dearly,” Short said. “Personally, I would not let this happen and will finish my swimming career in Australia, on my own terms.”

Short also said that he’s learned a lot from his teammates and coaches and will miss Iowa State.

“I’ve learned how to conduct myself and have a greater sense of pride in whatever I accomplish,” Short said. “I am not just representing myself and my teammates but the name of the university.”

Mike Jimenz is another Cyclone swimmer who will be staying at Iowa State.

“It was a really tough decision to make,” Jimenz said. “I had to realize that school is always No. 1 and that’s what I’m primarily here for.”

Jimenz said it was hard to hear that the athletic department couldn’t come up with the money to keep the program running, but that he trys not to think about it.

“My memory of this team will be a positive one of all of the good times I’ve had with my teammates and coaches in and out of the pool,” Jimenz said.

Through all the emotion and decision making, one thing remains constant, the relationships are what will be missed the most.

“I am not aware of the feelings or emotions experienced on other sports teams, but I know that the bonds formed on this team were stronger than anything I can imagine,” Nakama said. “A lot of swim teams are close, but I doubt that they are as close as ours.”