Iowa State Coach Duane Sorenson Announces Retirement after 27 Seasons

Photo Courtesy: Andy Ringgold / Aringo Photos

Iowa State Coach Duane Sorenson Announces Retirement after 27 Seasons

Duane Sorenson announced his retirement on Monday after 27 years at the helm of the Cyclones’ women’s program.

Sorenson is the second-longest tenured coach ever for an Iowa State women’s sport, only to women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly. He’s accounted for 141 of the program’s 240 dual meet victories.

Sorenson went 141-114-2 in dual meets with 11 seasons of six or more victories. The Cyclones finished in the top three at the Big 12 Championships on five occasions, including four consecutive years from 2014-17. He has helped 10 swimmers qualify for 30 individual events at the NCAA Championships.

“I’ve had the pleasure to work with so many outstanding, motivated, bright, determined, and competitive young women over these many years and my goal for each Iowa State athlete I coached was as they looked back on their Cyclone career, they were thankful and would readily say, ‘those were the best four years of my life,’” Sorenson said in a university statement. “Each athlete on every one of the 27 teams that I’ve had the pleasure to lead will always have a special place in my heart.

“I would like to thank Jamie Pollard and Calli Sanders for their leadership, guidance, support, and friendship throughout all the years that we have worked together,” he added. “I am also grateful for the ‘team behind the team,’ the incredible Athletics Department support staff both past and present. They are a driving force in the year-after-year success of all our ISU athletes. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with them and call them my friends.”

Sorenson was the Big 12’s Co-Coach of the Year in 2001 and again in 2015 for the runner-up Cyclones. Iowa State was the runner-up at the 2023 meet, the fifth time it has finished second in a conference championship.

“Duane has poured his heart and soul into the swimming and diving program, always leading with purpose toward developing young women into the best people they can be,” ISU Senior Associate Athletics Director Dr. Calli Sanders said. “He has been a great teacher of the sport, but more importantly, has steadfastly supported his student-athletes in their academic and career pursuits. I admire the connection that Duane has with his athletes long after their graduation from Iowa State, demonstrating the value he has placed on the relationship aspect of our profession,” she added. “I will miss him dearly as the leader of our program, a trusted colleague and friend, and wish him good health and happiness in his well-earned retirement.”

Before coming to Ames, Sorenson coached at South East Metro Sharks (SEMS) Swim Club in Minnesota for 20 years. He also worked at several high schools and as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Bemidji State. He was an NAIA All-American swimmer and captain at Bemidji State from 1973-77.

“From the first day walking onto the pool deck 47 years ago this spring as the right out of college brand new head coach of my hometown swim club, to finishing up this spring season of college training, my entire time on the deck has been more of an avocation than a ‘job’,” Sorenson said. “I have always looked at my role as that of a leader and a teacher. I’ve always embraced the leadership challenges of finding a way to win a dual meet, assisting our team to achieve our best at conference, building a positive culture with a group of women from all over the world to become a unified team that cares about each other and are willing to push themselves beyond their limits to help the team be successful.”

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