IOWA CITY – Pool closed for winter weather.
That has been a theme too often for high school swim teams across the state over the past two weeks. Adverse weather conditions have forced school and practices to be canceled leading into the state meet set to begin at noon Saturday inside the University of Iowa’s Recreation and Wellness Center.
Yoga and stretching routines from home have replaced laps in the pool for members of the Cedar Falls swim team on days in which they’ve been unable to practice.
“Swimming is kind of a sport where if you take even one day off it can change things in a pretty big way,” Cedar Falls coach Scott Pinter said. “Especially for more distance-oriented kids, a day can take you out of what you have planned. It’s definitely made things a little bit difficult going into districts and state.”
Cedar Falls junior Dylan Moffatt has already established himself as the state’s top all-time distance swimmer. He repeated as a 500-yard freestyle champion while demolishing Iowa’s record with a time of 4 minutes, 27.77 seconds in last year’s state meet.
Moffatt’s commute from his hometown of Independence to Holmes Junior High on the west side of Cedar Falls is a distance venture he routinely navigates just to get to practice.
“What’s impressed me the most is the amount of travel he’ll do even when we have snowy days where we don’t have school canceled,” Pinter said. “He’s got such a long trip and he still makes it up here and gets into the water.”
Moffatt’s top competition in the 500 will come from Ankeny’s Trent Frandson, who finished five seconds back and placed second as a freshman in last year’s state race.
This weekend’s longest race is actually a sprint of sorts for Moffatt. He swam the 1,500-meter freestyle as one of three distance events against a field of the nation’s elite – from Olympians to college standouts – at the USA Winter National Championships in early December.
Pinter says Moffatt takes an analytical approach to his craft.
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“Throughout club season he likes to get film of himself and he’ll take it home and watch it and see what he’s doing,” Pinter said. “He’ll look at what other swimmers are doing, what their technique looks like and what he might need to change. He’s very diligent in making sure he’s doing everything as correctly as possible.”
Moffatt has recently found growth by deciding to attack the backstroke and breaststroke to compliment the fly and freestyle, where he’s always been strong. Those gains have shown in the 200 IM. Moffatt enters state with the fourth-fastest qualifying time in that event.
“I’ve seen him develop into an all-stroke swimmer,” Pinter said. “It wasn’t something he was geared towards, even a few years ago, but he’s decided to attack it and he’s gotten incredible gains.”
Cedar Falls junior Benson Redfern and senior Dawson Bremner join Moffatt as qualifiers in the 200 IM. Bremner and Redfern also qualified in the 100 butterfly, where Bremner is seeded sixth.
“They push each other every single time,” Pinter said. “That’s why I was leaning towards putting them both in the same event. I knew they would push each other whether they’re working on stuff in practice or racing in a meet.”
Cedar Falls has also qualified in all three relays. Moffatt, Devin Myhr, Bremner and Matt Durbin turned in the 13th fastest time in the 200 medley relay, while Bremner, Jared Mattson, Redfern and Moffatt are qualified ninth – two seconds back of second – in what figures to be an exciting 400 freestyle relay to close out the state competition.
SHEPARD REPRESENTS WATERLOO: Waterloo swim coach Virgil Haley joked that he just needs to stay out of the way with his sophomore standout Cade Shepard.
Trained by his father, Seth Shepard, who coaches in the USS Destroyers Swim Club, Cade entered high school highly skilled. Haley saw Shepard’s competitive side emerge during last weekend’s qualifying meet when he punched state tickets in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke.
“He’s got an inner something in him,” Haley said. “He found it that day and did it. He’s a very good competitor.”