Anna Pfeiffer plans to make the most out of what she knows will be an unusual senior season of high school swimming.
Because the Dubuque Community School District’s new pool won’t be completed until December at the earliest, the Senior girls team won’t have many home meets and will practice evenings at the Dubuque Community Y. There will be plenty of unknowns for athletes who tend to be creatures of habit.
But Pfeiffer, who attends Western Dubuque High School and swims for the Rams, eliminated one source of stress earlier this month. She verbally committed to swim for the University of Iowa beginning with the 2020-21 season.
“This is definitely a lot of stress off my shoulders,” Pfeiffer said. “It was kind of a difficult decision, because there were a lot of really good schools that appealed to me. It’s exciting to get this done so I can focus on making the best of the season.
“I’m going to keep working my hardest and see where it can take me, considering the circumstances. It’s not the best situation, because it’s our senior season and we’d like to be in our home pool. But water’s water, and you have to do what you have to do. That’s what we plan to do.”
Pfeiffer has gotten used to a disjointed schedule this summer while competing with the Dubuque Area Swimmin’ Hurricanes club team. DASH, which will also move into the new pool on the Hempstead campus when it opens, began its summer season at the Divine Word pool in Epworth, Iowa, and has trained outdoors at Sutton Pool in Dubuque and occasionally at San Jose Pool on the Loras College campus.
“We’ve gotten probably five weeks of good training in,” Pfeiffer said. “So it hasn’t been too bad, considering the circumstances.”
Pfeiffer still plans to add to a brilliant all-state high school swimming career in which she has qualified for the state meet in all four of her events in each of her first three seasons. Last fall, she finished third in the 50-yard freestyle in 23.89 seconds and sixth in the 100 free in 52.62, in addition to helping the 200 medley relay place 11th and the 400 free relay place 12th. The Mississippi Valley Conference named her its Mississippi Division athlete of the year, and she also earned a spot on the all-academic team.
As a sophomore she finished fifth in both the 50 and 100 and helped the 400 free relay take 12th and the 200 medley relay finish 13th. She took ninth in the 100 and 14th in the 200 as a freshman, when she also qualified in two relays.
“With the times she’s been swimming, she’ll fit right in at Iowa and she’ll be able to contribute pretty quickly,” said Senior coach Jesse Huff, whose younger brother, Jordan, competed for the Hawkeyes. “Their program has had success in those mid-distance freestyle events where she’s had most of her success.
“It’s always exciting when one of your kids can go Division I, and it’s even better when they can go D-I and stay closer to home so we can hopefully go see them compete and keep track of them.”
Pfeiffer believes she found the perfect fit in the University of Iowa, because it will allow her to pursue a career in sports medicine as well as compete in the pool.
Under head coach Marc Long’s watch, the Hawkeyes have broken 149 school records and 360 athletes have automatically or provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championships in 15 seasons. Iowa has crowned 24 academic all-Americans, 340 academic all-Big Ten selections, and the team has consistently earned CSCAA Scholar All-America honors. The women’s team has been recognized with NCAA Public Recognition in 2015 and 2017 for a perfect Academic Progress Report as a team — a highly selective award given to the top 10 percent of teams across the country.
“I really liked how the coaching staff at Iowa emphasizes academics and actually puts that first,” Pfeiffer said. “I eventually hope to become a doctor, so the academic side of it is obviously very important to me.
“I like that it’s close to home, too, so my mom can do my laundry, too.”
Pfeiffer didn’t have to look very far for keen insight on the Hawkeyes’ program. DASH coach Doug Colin’s two sons, Ben and John, both competed for Iowa last season and train with the Dubuque club.
“They were all very helpful in the process, and they encouraged me to look at Iowa,” Pfeiffer said. “I’m super excited about being a Hawkeye.”
The DASH program has produced 15 other swimmers who swam for the Hawkeyes.