Duane Sorenson

Class of '77

After leading the Iowa State women’s swimming and diving team for the last 27 years, Duane Sorenson, the program’s winningest coach and the second-longest tenured head coach ever in an ISU women’s sport, announced his retirement as the Cyclones’ head coach on March 25, 2024.

Sorenson concludes his Cardinal and Gold career with a 141-114-2 (.553) dual-meet record, posting six or more dual victories 11 times, with five top three finishes at the Big 12 Championships, including four-straight from 2014-17. Ten Cyclones competed in 30 different individual events at the NCAA Championships on Sorenson’s watch.

“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 press release. “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.”

Over his tenure on the Cyclone pool deck, Sorenson earned a respected reputation for developing talent and getting the best out of his athletes, both in and out of the water. He led his team to new heights seemingly every year, as all current ISU school records fell a combined 122 times and his student-athletes earned All-Big 12 honors 237 times.

The Big 12 Conference twice honored Sorenson for his accomplishments, as he was named the Co-Swim Coach of the 2001 league championship meet and was the Swim Coach of the 2015 meet after leading the Cyclones to a runner-up finish with a program-record 618.5 points. He also guided Iowa State to a runner-up finish at the 2023 Big 12 Championships to match the program’s highest finish at a conference championship (second, five times) since it won ISU’s lone league title in 1973-74.

Under Sorenson, Iowa State became one of the Big 12’s top breaststroke programs, producing 54 all-conference honors among 14 swimmers. All Top 20 swimmers in the 100 and 200 Breaststroke have come on Sorenson’s watch.

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 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 women’s swimming coach at several high schools in Minnesota after starting his career as an assistant men’s coach at his alma mater, Bemidji State, where he helped the Beavers to a fourth-place NAIA national finish. As a student-athlete at Bemidji State from 1973-77, Sorenson earned NAIA All-America honors and co-captained the team his final two seasons. In 1976, he swam to a Northern Intercollegiate Conference championship in the 200 breaststroke.