The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Sougstad parts the waters

Swimmers get ready to jump off of the blocks during the women’s 400 free relay at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015. Iowa won the Hawkeye invitational for the second year in a row. (The Daily Iowan/Brooklynn Kascel)

If every accolade Hawkeye swimmer Emma Sougstad has received came with a trophy, she would run out of places to put them.

Sougstad was named University of Iowa Student-Athlete of the Month on Jan. 12, the latest on a long list of accomplishments the junior from Forest City, Iowa, has accrued.

As nice as the awards are for what she has accomplished so far, Sougstad said, their main use is motivation for the rest of her career.

“They’re just confidence builders,” she said. “Getting ready for Big Tens and getting ready for championship season, the team is really excited, I’m really excited.”

Sougstad was named Big Ten Swimmer of the Week on Dec. 16, one day after she was recognized as Division I Women’s Swimmer of the Week.

The weekly awards came after Sougstad’s performance against Iowa State, a meet in which she won four events and set three individual pool records in the 100 breast, 200 breast, and the 200 individual medley. The 200-medley-relay team consisting of Sougstad, freshman Kelly McNamara, and seniors Allie Orvis and Olivia Kabacinski also broke a pool record.

Orvis, who has been a teammate of Sougstad’s since before their days at Iowa, said practice is when Sougstad really shines.

“During practices, Emma is one of the hardest workers,” Orvis said. “She definitely has encouraged me. I grew up with Emma in club swimming, and now that she’s my teammate, she pushes me, and she pushes everybody. She always manages to stay positive even during those hard sets and encourages the whole team.”

Sougstad started swimming when she was 5, and she said she knew when she was about 10 that swimming could be something she could pursue in college.

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At Mason City High School, she was a 10-time high-school All-American and 11-time first-team all-state performer.

Growing up in a pro-Hawkeye household, oddly, almost pushed her away from joining the Hawks.

“My whole family, we’re Hawkeye fans,” Sougstad said. “But I tried to be like, ‘Oh, I’m an Iowa State fan,’ because my friends were Iowa State fans, so I was going to follow the trend. But you know, I turned out OK. I’m a Hawkeye, and I love it.”

Head coach Marc Long is part of a big group that is glad she turned out a Hawkeye. Long, who is also from northern Iowa, said the success Sougstad has had is a little more special considering she is an Iowa product.

“We get so much from all over the world in our program,” he said. “But personally, I grew up in that same region in Iowa [as Sougstad], so I think it’s a little bit different. Certainly, her path is a little different than you normally see in the swimming community, coming from a nontraditional swimming town.”

As she moves closer to the championship portion of the season, for her, the time is less about awards and more about beating the swimmer in the lane next to her.

Sougstad, who has set nine school records in her time at Iowa, said as she gets older she becomes less concerned with herself and more concerned with helping her team, and the program, grow.

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