March 27, 2014
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
By DAN WALLACE
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Dustin Rhoads is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, was named to the UI Dean's List, and was a Scholar All-America honorable mention honoree. Therefore, it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that as a senior, Rhoads knew exactly where he stood when it came to NCAA Championship qualification.
He did his homework.
"I knew after the Big Ten Championships I would have a chance," said Rhoads. "I was sitting there waiting for the PAC 12 Championships to wrap up. I was following along online to see if people would pass me or if others would attempt time trials or attend last chance meets. I was stuck waiting and watching, and I knew I was close, but I was praying I would make it."
Make it he did.
Rhoads found his name on the list of qualifiers for both the 100 and 200-yard backstroke events. The Ames, Iowa, native qualified for the NCAA Championships with the 29th-fastest time in the field in the 100-back (46.53) and the 34th-best time in the 200-back (1:42.94).
"He is so determined. Dustin has a competitive fire in everything he does and is focused on every race, stroke, and all of the fine details. He isn't going to be denied this year, and it has been exciting to watch him progress. He is on the biggest stage now, and he is ready to score."
"It's a great story, and I'm proud of him because of where he came from and how hard he has worked and how dedicated he has been to the program," said UI head coach Marc Long.
"I was relieved because it was a stressful process," said Rhoads. "When the final list came out and I saw my name I was happy to be going."
The accomplishment comes at the culmination of four years of long hours and hard work in the swimming pool. His dedication has paid off, as the senior currently holds the school record in the 200-back (142.94), and the second-fastest time in program history in the 100-back (46.53).
Long says it has been Rhoads' determination that has put him on the biggest stage in collegiate swimming.
"He is so determined," said Long. "Dustin has a competitive fire in everything he does and is focused on every race, stroke, and all of the fine details. He isn't going to be denied this year, and it has been exciting to watch him progress. He is on the biggest stage now, and he is ready to score."
It is a stage Rhoads has been dreaming of since becoming a Hawkeye, now he is shifting his focus to scoring NCAA points. Rhoads' appearance marks the fourth-consecutive year where Iowa has had an NCAA qualifier, and he wants to put points on the board for a fourth-straight season.
"As a team, we have had the mindset to keep fighting, racing, and never be too satisfied," said Rhoads. "I'm happy to be going, but I want to score and get some points for the team."
Rhoads will have the opportunity to do so in two events. The 100-yard backstroke will take place on Friday, March 28, while the 200-yard backstroke will take place a day later at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin, Texas. Prelims begin at 11 a.m. (CT) and with finals taking place each night at 7 p.m.
"I couldn't be happier to be going and represent the Hawkeyes and my entire team," said Rhoads. "It means a lot to me."