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Iowa State swim and dive head coach Duane Sorenson retires after 27 years

Iowa State Head Coach Duane Sorenson watches his swimmers. The Iowa State swim team hosted the annual Cy-Hawk swim meet at Beyer Hall on Dec. 11, 2015. The Hawkeyes would go on to win every event, contributing to the team’s 190-93 win. 

Iowa State swim and dive coach Duane Sorenson announced his retirement Monday after 27 years at the helm.

In Sorenson’s time coaching the swimming and diving team for 27 years, he became the winningest coach in program history. Sorenson was also the second-longest serving coach at Iowa State.

“Duane has poured his heart and soul into the swimming and diving program, always leading with purpose toward developing young women into the best people they can be,” senior associate athletics director Calli Sanders stated in an email.

Sorenson is not just the winningest coach by a little. He is the only head coach to lead Iowa State to over 100 dual meet victories.

Of Iowa State’s 240 victories in history, he has 141 of them. Sorenson also has above a .500 record in his 27-year tenure, leading the Cyclones to a 141-114-2 dual-meet record.

Sorenson’s success was evident in the conference, as he brought his teams to five top-three finishes in Big 12 Championships. Sorenson’s 2023 squad was also runner-up at the 2023 Big 12 Championships.

Under Sorenson, the Cyclones became a top breaststroke program in the Big 12. In 27 years, the Cyclones saw 14 swimmers earn 54 All-Big 12 honors. Every single Iowa State swimmer in the top 20 in the 100 and 200 breaststroke in Iowa State history came when Sorenson was head coach.

“I’ve had the pleasure to work with so many outstanding, motivated, bright, determined, and competitive young women over these many years and my goal for each Iowa State athlete I coached was as they looked back on their Cyclone career, they were thankful and would readily say, ‘those were the best four years of my life,’” Sorenson stated in an email. “Each athlete on every one of the 27 teams that I’ve had the pleasure to lead will always have a special place in my heart.

The only head coach in Iowa State history to coach a women’s program longer than Sorenson was Bill Fennelly, who is in his 29th season and counting. Sorenson’s tenure is also the seventh-longest in Iowa State history.

Sorenson’s recent season ranked among his best. The Cyclones ended the 2022-23 season with a 6-3 dual meet record after a 2021-22 season, where they tied their school record with eight dual victories. Along with the six wins, 21 Cyclones earned 21 All-Big 12 honors.

In Sorenson’s time at the helm, Iowa State beat every single record. In total, 122 records were broken in Sorenson’s tenure. His swimmers and divers also earned 237 total All-Big 12 honors.

“I have always looked at my role as that of a leader and a teacher. I’ve always embraced the leadership challenges of finding a way to win a dual meet, assisting our team to achieve our best at conference, building a positive culture with a group of women from all over the world to become a unified team that cares about each other and are willing to push themselves beyond their limits to help the team be successful,” Sorenson stated.

Sorenson started his coaching career nearly half a century ago. Before coaching at Iowa State, he was the head coach at South East Metro Sharks Swim Club. He earned five Coach of the Year honors in his time with the Sharks.

Sorenson also led his squads to five championships and 11 second-place finishes at state.

Sorenson was also the assistant coach of the men’s team at Bemidji State. Sorenson was also on the Bemidji State swim team.

“From the first day walking onto the pool deck 47 years ago this spring as the right out of college brand new head coach of my hometown swim club, to finishing up this spring season of college training, my entire time on the deck has been more of an avocation than a ‘job,’” Sorenson said.

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    Ralph Mundt | Mar 26, 2024 at 7:25 am

    Congratulations Duane on a successful career. Enjoy your retirement!