November 2014

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67 F or 28 years at every University of Iowa swimming and diving meet at the UI Field House, a bell was rung to signify the start of a competition. at bell will now find a permanent home at the UI's Campus Recreation and Wellness Center. e tradition was started by former Hawkeye All- American Irving Weber and his wife, Martha. e couple attended the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo and the following season a new tradition was born in Iowa City. "e Japanese have a tradition of ringing a bell (before the start of the races)," said Bob Stein, a former Hawkeye swimmer and Iowa's swimming and diving public address announcer for 34 years. "It's a bell they would ring in a school yard to tell them the recess is over. "I have the original bell, which Irving gave me when he got to be more than 90-years-old and couldn't do it anymore." Weber participated in the tradition for every home meet until he reached the age of 91 or 92-years old and the wet pool deck became too big of a challenge for him to move around on. Stein took over for a handful of years from the announcer's stand before the bell-ringing stopped when Weber passed away. Stein has served as the "keeper of the bell" for the past 23 years. It sits in a special place in his home, in between what he calls "two special awards" — a Lifetime Achievement Award, and a Letterman of the Year Award from the UI Letterman's club. Irving gave Stein marching orders when he relinquished control of the bell, knowing Stein would help find its rightful home. It previously was displayed in the UI Field House in the Irving B. Weber walkway between the pool and south gym before the swimming and diving program moved to the facility at the CRWC. "Irving asked me to keep the bell until such time that we found the right place for it," said Stein. "It turns out (UI head coach) Marc Long and I decided the bell ought to be a part of the history and be displayed in a prominent place in the new pool." Stein feels it is important to carry on the tradition and legacy of Weber — Iowa's first All-American in program history. He earned the distinction in the backstroke in 1922. Weber was inducted into the National Iowa Varsity Club Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994, and since 1994 the team has presented the Irving B. Weber Award annually to a men's team member who displays outstanding leadership. e plan is for the bell to be displayed on the north side of the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center where spectators enter the natatorium. "It has a special place for me," said Long. "When I swam here, Irving would ring that bell at every home meet and before we le for an away meet, he would ring it on the bus before we took off. Irving is an Iowa City and Iowa swimming and diving legend, so we find it fitting to honor his legacy."

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