Iowa City Eelsswim club

swim club

History of the Iowa City Eels

vintage eel, modern font From 1916 through 1919 an informal group of mostly University of Iowa swimmers and gymnasts were formed to patrol the banks of the Iowa River. This heroic group of rescuers became known as the "Eels". The Iowa River, which meanders through Iowa City and the University of Iowa campus, was a popular location for Iowa students and local residents to canoe and swim. As more people participated in the recreational act­ivities of the river, it became an increasingly more dangerous place. Yet through the valiant efforts of the "Eels", many lives were spared.

This close-knit group began to demonstrate their expertise in swimming to their fellow citizens in a series of shows that began in the old University Men's Gym. These "Eel Shows" became quite popular and even included shows performed from a barge on the Iowa River near City Park. Around 1919 the University formed its own group of lifeguards to patrol the Iowa River both by foot and boat. Looking to continue the camaraderie formed during their years together, the Eels combined with a swimming fraternity at the University of Illinois and became known as the Dolphins. The swimming performances, now known as Dolphin shows, continued to be performed annually.

boxed eel With the completion of the Iowa Field House in the 1920's the Dolphin Show had a permanent home in the new 50 yard, 10-lane pool, which at the time was the world's largest indoor pool. These shows be­came popular fall traditions with thousands of people attending the swim­ming and gymnastics exhibition. It was during one of these performances that the dolphin kick butterfly stroke was invented and first demonstrat­ed. These shows ended in the 1970's as increased training and swimming competition took the place of preparation for the shows.

The Iowa City Eels Swim Club is proud to carry on this deep tradition of swimming in the Iowa City area. The toughness and commitment demonstrated by the original group of young men and women in the early 20th century is an example for the swimmers and competitors of today's Iowa City Eels Swim Club.

The Swim Club would like to thank the late Irving Weber, an original "Eel" from 1916, for his help in compiling this information. With respect and affection, it is our pleasure to host the "Irving B Weber Open Invitational" every December.

wavy eel 2003

The Eels Today

ICE breastsroke swimmer We offer training and competitive opportunities for swimmers at all levels and all ages. Interested youth can either begin in our Stroke Clinic or dive directly into one of our regular practice groups.

ICE coaches consult with new families to find the best fit for each swimmer. Find out more about our Youth and Master's programs under the Practice Group heading.

tattoo eel All of our swimmers, from novice to elite, whether 7 or 77, will be coached by an experienced and professional coaching staff that is one of the finest in the state.