Duane Sorenson enters his 20th season as the head coach of the Iowa State swimming and diving program in 2016-17 and returns 21 student-athletes from last season’s squad that finished third at the Big 12 Conference Championship – Iowa State’s third-consecutive top-three finish at the meet. The Dean of Big 12 coaches, Sorenson’s swimmers have earned all-conference honors 131 times during his tenure.
During his time at the helm of the Iowa State program, Sorenson has earned a reputation for developing talent and getting his teams to compete at the highest level. Sorenson has elevated the Iowa State program to new heights, as all current school records have fallen a combined 101 times with him as head coach.
The Big 12 Conference has recognized Sorenson for his accomplishments, naming the Cyclone head coach Co-Swim Coach of the Meet at the 2001 conference championships and Swim Coach of the Meet in 2015.
Under Sorenson, Iowa State has become one of the Big 12’s top breaststroke programs, producing 26 all-conference honors among eight swimmers. All top-10 performers in Iowa State history in the 100 and 200 breaststroke have competed under Sorenson.
In 2016, the Cyclones totaled 16 All-Big 12 honors and six dual meet victories, including a 2-1 record in Big 12 dual meets. Over the course of the last three seasons Sorenson led the Cyclones to a combined 20 dual meet wins, matching the highest consecutive three-season total at ISU. En route to a 6-win season last year, the Cyclones knocked off Nebraska-Omaha, South Dakota, TCU, Washington-St. Louis, UNI and West Virginia.
The Cyclones’ double-dual meet against South Dakota and TCU on Nov. 6, 2015, was a historic meet for Sorenson, as Iowa State’s pair of victories that night brought him to the century mark. Sorenson became the first coach in program history to reach 100 dual meet wins with a 171-129 victory over South Dakota and a 169-130 triumph against TCU. Sorenson is 1-of-17 coaches all-time in Iowa State athletics to win 100 contests with the Cyclones.
The 2009-10 season was historic for the Cyclones, winning eight dual meets for the first time in school history. Iowa State collected victories against Iowa, Illinois State, Evansville, South Dakota, South Dakota State, Northern Iowa, Green Bay and Nebraska-Omaha before finishing fifth at the Big 12 Championships with 338 points. Iowa State broke 10 school records during the four-day event and had four all-conference performances in the pool and on the diving boards.
The 38-year coaching veteran has compiled a 103-84-1 (0.551) record in his 19 years at Iowa State. He has won six or more duals in eight seasons, including a 7-2 finish in the 2001-02 campaign, Iowa State’s best record in 20 years. Three Cyclones competed in six events at the NCAA Championships that year, including Sonja Groning, who finished 19th in the 100 fly. Ten Cyclones have competed in 30 different individual events at the NCAA Championships during Sorenson's tenure.
Since taking the position as the Cyclones’ head coach, Sorenson’s teams have not only made great strides in the pool, but have achieved success in the classroom as well. Iowa State’s grade-point average is consistently among the best in the conference and the nation.
Iowa State led the Big 12 in 2012-13 with 16 student-athletes named to the academic All-Big 12 first-team. The squad trails only the 2010-11 Cyclones for most academic honors; the 2010-11 club placed 20 student-athletes on academic teams, 15 on the first- team. The 2015-16 roster combined for 12 academic All-Big 12 first-team honorees. As a team, Iowa State earned CSCAA Scholastic All-America team honors for the 26th-consecutive season in 2015.
Before coming to Iowa State, Sorenson was head coach of the South East Metro Sharks (SEMS) Swim Club. As coach of the Sharks, he received the Minnesota Chapter of the American Swimming Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year award five different times. In his 20 years with the club, Sorenson led the team to five championships and 11 runner-up finishes at state competition. More notably, he tutored 67 junior national qualifiers and 25 senior national qualifiers throughout his tenure at SEMS. From 1987-97, more than 120 of Sorenson’s swimmers graduated to the collegiate level.
Sorenson also served as the head coach for the Woodbury High School girls’ swim team. While coaching the Royals, Sorenson’s squads captured four conference titles, won four sectional championships, had one state runner-up finish and captured one state title. His accomplishments earned him the 1991 High School Coach of the Year award in the State of Minnesota.
Sorenson also held the head girls’ swimming coach position at Park/Woodbury High School (1982-85), Park Senior High (1979-81) and Tartan High School (1977-78), all in Minnesota. Sorenson coached swimmers at these schools to three sectional championships and four conference titles.
During the 1978-79 season, Sorenson was asked back to his alma mater, Bemidji State University, as an assistant coach for the men’s team. He helped guide the Beavers to a fourth-place NAIA national finish.
As a student-athlete at Bemidji State from 1973-77, Sorenson was a member of the swimming team. During his junior and senior seasons he was an NAIA All-American and co-captain. In 1976, he swam to a Northern Intercollegiate Conference championship in the 200 breaststroke.