CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- To get a better look at his swimmers' stroke techniques, Glen Henry used to don his scuba gear and take a plunge under the water.
Today, Henry volunteers with the University of Northern Iowa women's swim team, coaching and evaluating form from a wheelchair parked deckside, with the aid of a headset microphone and speaker system.
That's not the way Henry and his wife, Karen, expected to spend their retirement years. They planned on doing a lot of traveling. Henry hoped to spend more time scuba diving. But less than three months after his full retirement from UNI in 2004 and giving up refereeing, the couple were in a motorcycle accident in Wisconsin. Henry was paralyzed from the chest down.
Henry began coaching Panther men's swimming in 1966, serving as head coach through the 1981 season. He added women's coaching responsibilities the final two years. He led the men to 10 North Central Conference titles, coached 129 individual champions and saw 35 of his athletes earn all-America honors.
He served on the NCAA Swimming and Diving Rules Committee, was chair of the Collegiate All-American Swimmer Selection Committee and was a state, district and national swim clinician. He refereed and coordinated 17 NCAA Division I Men's and Women's National Swimming and Diving Championships from 1977 to 1995.
A swimming and diving scholarship endowment has been established in his name with the UNI Foundation. UNI's competitive pool is now named the Glen F. Henry Swimming and Diving Pool.
After the accident Henry told his wife they could either "take the high road or the low road. The low road, be mad at the world, be mad at God, be depressed, or, the high, road, and be what we are.
"I've tried to maintain as good an attitude as I can. I don't want to complain, don't want to bitch. I'd like to be just a nice person and enjoy what I have left. I don't want to be sorry, I want to be happy. No matter how bad off you are, you're still alive."
After a 29-year absence from coaching, Henry is back doing what he knows best. Following the dedication of the pool in his name last March, current UNI head swim coach Stacey Simmer called Henry asking if he wanted to help coach the Panther women.
"I felt he could really help in taking this program to a new level," Simmer said. "Glen has so much swimming knowledge and understands how the strokes work. The swimmers can learn so much from him.
"He knows the history of swimming and has a love for the sport. One thing I try to instill in the swimmers is a love of the sport, and Glen fits into that perfectly."
Henry jumped at the chance to be involved again.
"Here I am three days a week, running specialty drills, teaching hydro-dynamics, mechanics of strokes, conditioning, starts, turns, touch-offs, all the techniques that are involved in swimming. Stacey does a lot of work with them on the off days and with conditioning after I am done."
Since March Henry has helped with the 12 swimmers who have returned. Four stayed over the summer, and he helped them. There currently are 23 in the pool training for their season opener at home on Oct. 23 against Illinois State.
At the start of each practice session, Henry gathers the team around him and explains what is in store for the day. He speaks into the headset, making certain he can be heard. He whistles for attention. He shares his knowledge of fundamentals. He explains the meaning behind "HPA" --- hurt, pain, agony.
Junior captain Chelsea Hartman has been working with Henry since March.
"The first week was kind of challenging," she said. "He completely changed my stroke. Some of the stuff he said we'd never heard before. I've been swimming since I was 10, and it was hard to get my brain around to I needed to change.
"It's been awesome to have him here. I felt a difference in my stroke right away. He came in here and said, 'You guys can do this. If you believe in me we can get this done. 'We're swimming faster."
After moving back from Arizona a couple years after the accident, Henry brought to Cedar Falls a rehabilitation expert from Los Angeles his daughter found out about on the Internet. Henry and the therapist met with UNI's Physical Therapy club. Students were trained to assist Henry with his exercises. Someone works with him almost daily. The therapist filmed Henry's daily routine and wrote a training manual.
"I have students work on me so they know what to do before they get to PT (physical therapy) schools," Henry said. "Mayo and clinics in Arizona - none knew what to do for quads, and students had never touched a quad."
Donavon Greiner, a junior pre-physical therapy major, is one such student.
"He's amazing," Greiner said. "He's done so much in life, and to have this positive attitude is surprising. I've learned a lot by helping him."