The history of Ankeny boys’ swimming dates back to the 1980s–before the Ankeny YMCA was even built.
Mike Johnson graduated before Ankeny had an indoor swimming pool, so he traveled to Dowling High School twice a day for a pair of three-hour practices. He participated in high school meets in order to qualify for the state meet by swimming in Valley’s seventh lane.
Johnson went on to become a six-time high school all-American (you’ll read more about him later). However, he never had a chance to compete for a team title while swimming for the Hawks.
The Ankeny program began as a team in 1989, and it didn’t take long for the Hawks to become a state contender. Coach Mark Nordby, who took over the reins from Mason Babcock in 1992, guided Ankeny to its first top-10 finish at the state meet in just his third season.
The Hawks went on to record eight consecutive top-10 finishes under Nordby, including a third-place finish in 1999. Brennan Cleveland then replaced Nordby in 2002 and led Ankeny to five more top-10 finishes in the next seven seasons, highlighted by a fifth-place finish in 2005.
Current head coach Justin Crouch took over the program in 2009 and has continued to build on that success, especially in the last four seasons. The Hawks placed seventh in 2017 and tied for third the following year before capturing their first state championship in 2019.
Ankeny nearly defended its title at this year’s state meet, but had to settle for a runner-up finish. Still, it was the Hawks’ 19th top-10 finish in the last 26 seasons.
The program has produced a lot of great swimmers over the last three-plus decades, beginning with Johnson’s brilliant individual performances. Here, then, is the Ankeny Fanatic all-time Ankeny boys’ swimming team, which is comprised of two dual-meet teams (for a total of six swimmers in each individual event). For the relays, the top two times in school history in each relay are used for the first and second teams.
200 medley relay: Brek Stukerjurgen, Weston Miner, Lance Swanepoel and Max Martin teamed up for a fifth-place finish at this year’s state meet. They set a school record with a time of 1:34.76.
200 freestyle: Trent Frandson, Mike Johnson, Chris George
Frandson won the first of his four individual state titles by winning this event in 2019 in a time of 1:37.75. Then, in February, he defended his 200 freestyle crown while dropping more than 2 seconds off his time, turning in a clocking of 1:35.68 that broke a 35-year-old state record that was held by Valley’s Craig Oppel. Last month, Frandson was ranked No. 14 nationally in the Class of 2021 in the latest rankings by SwimSwam.com. He has verbally committed to California, one of the top collegiate programs in the nation.
Johnson won two of his six state titles in the 200 freestyle. He won his first crown as a sophomore in 1986, when he posted a time of 1:41.53. As a senior in 1988, he won the event again in 1:38.20–which still ranks third on Iowa’s all-time list behind Frandson and Oppel. Johnson won a pair of gold medals at the U.S. Olympic Festival in 1986, then won four more the following year. He was also a two-time Junior national champion. In 2006, Johnson was ranked No. 24 on the Ankeny Press Citizen’s list of the 50 greatest athletes in Ankeny High School history. He is a member of the Iowa High School Swim Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
George was a two-time placewinner in the 200 freestyle. He took third in the event as a junior in 1998 in 1:43.35. The following year, he repeated his third-place finish while posting a time of 1:41.73. “Chris was an intensely driven practice swimmer who made himself into a great competition swimmer,” said Nordby, who is now the head boys’ lacrosse coach at Chisago Lakes High School in Lindstrom, Minn. “He loved the challenge of completing the hardest sets during any practice. The harder the workout, the more fired up Chris would get. He was a tremendous leader for us.”
200 individual medley: Kiel Huston, Dan Harty, Nathan Bowie
Huston was a two-time state champion in this event. He placed fifth as a freshman and third as a sophomore before winning his first title in 2001, when he posted a time of 1:52.86. In 2002, he defended his crown and broke his own school record with a time of 1:52.33, the third-fastest clocking in state history at the time. Huston was ranked No. 36 on the Press Citizen’s top 50 list of greatest athletes. He was later inducted into the IHSSCA Hall of Fame. “Kiel spent many hours training all four strokes for IM,” Nordby said. “During his senior year, Kiel was behind by two body lengths going into the breaststroke leg to Sean Osborne of Cedar Falls. Over the next 50 Kiel started reeling Osborne in, they touched nearly together with 50 yards of freestyle to go and Huston pulled away to beat Sean. He was fiercely competitive.”
Harty was a three-time placewinner in the 200 IM. He took sixth as a sophomore in 2003, posting a time of 2:00.79. He then placed third in each of the next two years, turning in times of 1:55.04 and 1:55.08. “Dan worked hard and was a strong all-around swimmer,” Cleveland said. “He swam a variety of events at state.”
Bowie was a teammate of Harty’s on the 2003 squad. That was the only season that he competed for the Hawks, but he made a huge impact. He placed third in the 200 IM in a time of 1:56.60.
50 freestyle: Max Martin, Kellen Huston, Ryan Hallenbeck
Martin was a four-time placewinner in this event, taking eighth as a freshman, fourth as a sophomore and sixth as a junior before coming out of the slow heat to place fifth at this year’s meet. In 2019, he set the school record with a time of 21.03 seconds, which he nearly matched at this year’s meet (21.04). He will compete for Iowa next year. “Max is the most all-around athletic swimmer I have ever coached,” Crouch said. “He played multiple sports and swam only one season a year and was still a record holder and placewinner at state.”
Huston, Kiel’s older brother, was one of the best sprinters in school history. As a junior in 1999, he placed second in the 50 freestyle in 21.57. As a senior, he tied for seventh in the event in 21.83 and also placed fifth in the 100 freestyle in 48.65. “Kellen was a great athlete and ultra-competitive no matter what sport or race in football, swimming or track,” Nordby said. “He was the runner-up in the 50 free to Ryan Fitzgerald of Dowling. Kellen then led off the (runner-up) 200 free relay and his relay split (21.38) was even faster than Fitzgerald’s winning time (21.44). He was a great relay swimmer.”
Hallenbeck tied for fourth in the 50 freestyle in 1998 in 21.83, setting a school record at the time. He also anchored the sixth-place 200 medley relay that broke another AHS mark. “Ryan was a true sprinter with incredibly explosive starts and turns,” Nordby said. “He swam the second half of his 50 with his goggles in his mouth after they slipped down on the turn and still had a fast time.”
100 butterfly: Mike Johnson, Lance Swanepoel, Jeff Summy
Johnson was a three-time state champion in this event. As a senior, he posted a time of 49.63 that remained the school record for 32 years. He also won a state title in the 100 backstroke as a junior. Johnson went on to earn all-Pac Ten honors at UCLA before transferring to Iowa, where he earned all-Big Ten honors. He was also an NCAA all-American and a three-time qualifier for the U.S. Olympic swimming trials. Johnson is one of the best swimmers that the state of Iowa has ever produced. He is one of the three captains of our squad. “Mike was a one-man team for Ankeny in the 1980s,” Cleveland said. “Because the school did not have a pool or a team, Mike was it. He is currently the most decorated individual swimmer in Ankeny history.”
Swanepoel, a freshman, made a spectacular state-meet debut in February, placing second in the 100 butterfly. His time of 49.57 broke Johnson’s school record and nearly cracked the state’s all-time top-10 list. “He has a very high ceiling with a lot of potential,” Crouch said. “He might be Ankeny swimming’s next state champ.”
Summy was a four-time state qualifier in this event. He placed fifth as a junior in 1994 in 54.07, then took seventh the following year in 53.91. He also finished eighth in the 200 freestyle as a sophomore. “Jeff was a super fluid butterflyer who made the stroke look easy,” Nordby said. “He trained hard and competed hard. He often stood several inches below most swimmers he competed against and yet would just rip through the water effortlessly and touch the wall first.”
100 freestyle: Ben Van Roekel, Jake Van Roekel, Adam Vaske
Ben Van Roekel was a three-time placewinner in this event. After taking sixth as a sophomore in 2004 in 48.72, he earned back-to-back fourth-place finishes in each of the next two years, dropping his time to 47.98 and then to 47.04. He also placed third in the 50 freestyle as a senior, posting a time of 21.46. “Ben was also a valuable asset on the relays,” Cleveland said. “He was the first swimmer at Ankeny to break the 21-second barrier for his relay split on the 50 free.”
Jake Van Roekel, Ben’s younger brother, placed third in the 100 freestyle in 2008, when he turned in a time of 47.46. “Jake became a strong leader and role model to the younger swimmers through his hard work and dedication,” Cleveland said. “One of his biggest honors came after the state meet when he was named the captain of the academic all-state team.” Van Roekel continued his swimming career at the University of New Orleans, where he was all-conference as a freshman before transferring to the University of Pittsburgh.
Vaske was a key part of Ankeny’s state championship squad. He placed seventh in the 100 freestyle in 46.78 and also swam on both runner-up freestyle relays. “Adam was fun-loving and super competitive,” Crouch said. “He always had a laugh and knew how to make practice fun during the hard times.”
500 freestyle: Trent Frandson, Brek Stukerjurgen, Chris George
After placing second in this event as a freshman in 2018, Frandson set a state record in the 500 freestyle a year ago when he led Ankeny to the state title and was named swimmer of the year. He posted a time of 4:23.46, dropping more than 4 seconds off the previous mark. He then defended his crown at this year’s meet, when he swam to an easy victory in 4:26.27 while trying to conserve some energy for the 200 freestyle relay, which he anchored to a second-place finish with a split of 19.99 seconds. He later swam the opening leg of the 400 freestyle relay in 43.93, setting a school record and showing once again that he’s not just a distance swimmer. Frandson also holds the AHS mark in the 100 backstroke (51.35). His career is far from over, but he’s already done enough in the pool to become the second of our three team captains. “Trent is the most talented swimmer I have ever coached,” Crouch said. “He can take on an enormous amount of work and make it look easy.”
Stukerjurgen is also part of Ankeny’s talented Class of 2021. He placed sixth in the 500 freestyle as a sophomore in 4:39.88, then repeated his sixth-place finish at this year’s meet, where he was clocked in 4:40.17.
George was a three-time placewinner in the 500 freestyle. After taking fifth as a sophomore in 1997 in 4:49.69, he earned back-to-back runner-up finishes in each of the next two years, posting times of 4:40.29 and 4:40.56. “One of the greatest races was his 500 free race against his friend Jason Snider of Valley in 1999. Snider edged George by .03,” Nordby said. “In the very next event, the 200 free relay, Chris anchored our second-place finish by out-touching (Nate) Zittergruen of Valley by .03, the same margin he had lost to Snider. That was a nice payback.” George went on to swim for Iowa.
200 freestyle relay: Max Martin, Adam Vaske, Jae Swanepoel and Trent Frandson set the school record of 1:23.68 while placing second at the state meet in 2019. This time ranks fourth all-time in state-meet history.
100 backstroke: Lucas Klinker, Ben Van Roekel, Brek Stukerjurgen
Klinker was a three-time placewinner in this event. He took fifth in both 2010-11, setting a school record at the time of 52.97 in his junior season. He then finished sixth as a senior in 2012, posting a time of 53.05. “Lucas was a total leader, very conscientious and a crucial silent leader,” Crouch said. “He was not one to boast or brag, but was able to get the job done with effort and class.” Klinker went on to swim at Iowa before switching to the water polo team.
Van Roekel took seventh in this event in 2004 with a time of 55.72, then earned runner-up honors as a senior in 54.26. “Ben swam one of the closest backstroke races ever and finished second after coming in seeded sixth,” Cleveland said. Van Roekel went on to have one of the most decorated college swimming careers in Ankeny history. “He wasn’t recruited by a lot of schools, but at the state meet his junior year the coach who some would argue is the greatest swim coach in history–Eddie Reese–came calling. Ben was given the opportunity to swim for the University of Texas as part of the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation. He was a part of four Big 12 championship teams and one NCAA championship team, was a two-time NCAA all-American and was a part of two American record relays.” Van Roekel also swam in the Olympic trials while in college.
Stukerjurgen has already established himself as one of the state’s best backstrokers. He placed sixth in this event a year ago in 52.43, then improved to a fourth-place finish at this year’s meet, when he was clocked in 51.65. “Brek is very team-oriented,” Crouch said. “He always swims hard and with a lot of grit. He’s one of the toughest competitors I know.”
100 breaststroke: Kiel Huston, Dan Harty, Mark Williams
Huston placed second in this event as a freshman behind Jon Koenig of Dubuque Senior, marking his only loss in the 100 breaststroke during his high school career. He then won three consecutive state titles in 2000-02. As a junior, he posted a time of 56.03 seconds, setting a state record at the time and claiming the public school national title. He still owns two of the top six times in state-meet history. Huston went on to swim at the University of Tennessee, where he earned all-American honors in the 200 medley relay. “Kiel hated losing, period,” Nordby said. “His work ethic and drive during practices were incredible to watch. Every practice it seemed Kiel was racing, whether it was future competitors or the clock. And every time Kiel stepped on the blocks, other teams would stop and watch as he normally beat everyone in the 100 by three to four body lengths and broke many pool records.” Huston joins Frandson and Johnson as the captains of our squad.
Harty placed eighth in this event as a sophomore in 2003 before winning back-to-back state titles in each of the next two seasons, posting times of 58.36 and 58.66. He was a two-time all-American. “Dan can make the claim that he was last swimmer to win an individual swim title at the old fieldhouse in Iowa City and was the first breaststroke champion in Marshalltown,” Cleveland said. “His hard work and leadership allowed him the opportunity to continue his swimming career at the Division I level in college (Missouri).” Harty combined with Huston to give the Hawks five breaststroke titles in a six-year span. “Dan was a student of swimming and wanted to continue in the great tradition of 100 breast excellence for Ankeny,” said Nordby, who coached Harty when he was a freshman. “His technique was outstanding, and he trained hard on and off season.”
Williams was a three-time placewinner in the 100 breaststroke. He took sixth as a sophomore in 1994 before placing fifth and fourth in his final two seasons, lowering his times from 1:01.43 to 1:00.84 to 59.13. Those were all school records at the time. “Mark had one of the strongest breaststroke kicks I’d ever coached,” Nordby said. “Adding his kick with a powerful upper body led to many swims under the 1:00 barrier and podium finishes at state. He was a great athlete who worked hard every practice.”
400 freestyle relay: Trent Frandson, Adam Vaske, Jae Swanepoel and Max Martin posted a time of 3:06.13 while placing second at the 2019 state meet, allowing the Hawks to secure the team title. This time ranks eighth on the all-time state meet list.
200 medley relay: Brek Stukerjurgen, Mason Keinroth, Weston Miner and Max Martin posted the second-fastest time in school history of 1:35.22 while placing third at the state meet in 2019.
200 freestyle: Lance Swanepoel, Lucas Klinker, Jake Van Roekel
Swanepoel placed fifth in the 200 freestyle at this year’s state meet. He posted a time of 1:42.61.
Klinker was a two-time placewinner in this event. He took fifth as a junior in 2011 in 1:44.46, then finished fourth as a senior in 1:43.76.
Van Roekel recorded a third-place finish in the 200 freestyle in 2008. He was clocked in 1:43.84.
200 individual medley: Connor Neils, Mason Keinroth, Logan Braadt
Neils earned back-to-back fifth-place finishes in this event in 2017-18. He posted times of 1:55.69 and 1:55.77. “Connor is the most intelligent swimmer I have ever coached,” Crouch said. “He made adjustments easily.”
Keinroth was a three-time state qualifier in the 200 IM who helped Ankeny to the state title in 2019, when he placed 12th in the event with a time of 1:59.16. His best stroke was the breaststroke. “Mason was a glue guy,” Crouch said. “He was quiet and reserved, but I could put him anywhere to help the team. He swam at his best late in meets.”
Braadt was also a three-time qualifier in this event. He placed 10th in 2012 in a time of 1:59.55. “Logan was a joy to coach. He had four good strokes,” Crouch said. “He was the first athlete I met at AHS when I came, and he developed into a great swimmer.”
50 freestyle: Adam Vaske, Lucas Dunn, Soren Peterson
Vaske was a two-time placewinner in this event. He took ninth as a junior in 2018 in 21.71, then placed eighth as a senior in 21.47. He is now swimming at Truman State.
Dunn placed seventh in the 50 freestyle in 2009, turning in a time of 22.08. As a junior in 2008, he took 12th in the 100 freestyle. “Lucas showed the true meaning of what it means to be a team player when he was a senior,” Cleveland said. “Instead of swimming two individual events and two relays, he gave up the chance to place in the 100 freestyle so he could help the relays by swimming all three.” Dunn went on to swim for the University of South Dakota.
Peterson took sixth in this event in 1996, setting a school record of 22.11 at the time. “Soren had a disastrous start at districts and swam from a body length behind everyone to place and barely make state,” Nordby said. “He ended up coming from the slowest heat to a podium finish. He crushed everyone in that first heat and then had to wait for the two other heats to find out he made all-state.”
100 butterfly: Kellen Huston, T.J. Tollakson, Weston Miner
Huston wasn’t just a sprinter. He placed seventh in this event in 1998, posting a time of 54.11. He went on to play football at Nebraska.
Tollakson was another talented multi-sport athlete. He placed sixth in the 100 butterfly in 1997 in 54.86. Despite his success in the pool, he later decided to go out for wrestling instead of swimming. He eventually became a top professional triathlete. “T.J. was an incredibly talented athlete in any sport he competed in,” Nordby said. “He had a powerful fly stroke and just glided over the water. His stroke looked like an early version of (Michael) Phelps. T.J. was very goal-driven and knew exactly what he wanted to do.”
Miner, a junior, placed 11th in this event at this year’s state meet. He was clocked in 51.96.
100 freestyle: John Breen, Jake Klinker, Jae Swanepoel
Breen placed sixth in this event as a senior in 2017, posting a time of 47.41. But he was very capable in all four strokes–he took ninth in the 200 individual medley in 2016.
Klinker took fifth in the 100 freestyle in 48.02 as a senior in 2012. At the same meet, he also placed fifth in the 100 backstroke in 53.03. “Jake was an outstanding backstroker/sprinter,” Crouch said. “He had all the tools. He was a great come-from-behind swimmer and was a vocal leader on my first teams.” Jake joined his brother Luke on the water polo team at Iowa, where they were the co-captains as seniors. The twins are now “Elite” level Spartan racers (obstacle course races) and compete all over the U.S.
Swanepoel was ninth in the 100 freestyle at this year’s state meet. He posted a time of 47.63. Swanepoel, who was also a key member of the freestyle relay teams, will compete next year for Truman State.
500 freestyle: Connor Neils, Chandler Cox, John Van Oort
Neils placed fourth in this event as a junior in 2017, when he posted a time of 4:42.44. As a senior, he finished 10th in the 100 backstroke. He is now swimming at Truman State.
Cox took fifth in the 500 freestyle in 2013, turning in a time of 4:49.52. “Chandler was a great distance swimmer,” Crouch said. “The longer the distance, the better he got. He was a great person to have on the team. He was always calm and composed.”
Van Oort was a two-time qualifier in this event and placed 12th as a sophomore in 2001 in a time of 5:00.46. As a senior, he took sixth in the 200 freestyle in 1:48.37. “John was a great all-around freestyle swimmer,” Cleveland said. “He swam on the relays for his final three years along with the distance events. John’s hard work really paid off his senior season when he earned all-state honors.”
200 freestyle relay: Max Martin, Weston Miner, Jae Swanepoel and Trent Frandson turned in the second-fastest time in school history of 1:23.83 while placing second at this year’s state meet.
100 backstroke: Weston Miner, B.J. Brent, Nathan Bowie
Miner placed fifth in this event at this year’s state meet in 51.72. He took eighth in the 100 backstroke in 53.07 as a sophomore a year ago, when he bounced back after being disqualified in the 100 butterfly to help Ankeny to the state title. “Weston is the most resilient swimmer I have ever coached,” Crouch said. “He can come back after a bad swim and come through in crucial moments.”
Brent was a two-time placewinner in the 100 backstroke. He placed fifth as a junior in 1998 in 54.35, then tied for fifth as a senior in 53.81. “B.J. was crazy fun and crazy fast. His explosive starts usually got him a lead which he rarely gave up,” Nordby said. “He was a tremendously strong athlete that trained, competed and lived life with passion. He is now a popular high school teacher in Minnesota who brings that same passion to the classroom.”
Bowie placed third in this event in 2003, setting a school record of 53.27 at the time. “Nathan came to Ankeny from the East Coast for his senior season,” Cleveland said. “Before his senior year his strengths were in the 200 backstroke (which is not swam in high school) and the distance IM. Once he joined the team, he began to improve on the shorter distance backstroke events and eventually led off the medley relay for us.” Bowie went on to swim for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
100 breaststroke: John Breen, Jorden Studer, Braden Hines
Breen was a two-time placewinner in this event. After placing ninth as a junior in 2016 in 59.55, he moved up to a fourth-place finish as a senior in 58.46. “John was the most improvement-driven swimmer I’ve ever coached,” Crouch said. “He always was looking for ways to get better, and it paid off for him.” He is now swimming at Truman State.
Studer was also a two-time placewinner in the 100 breaststroke. He took seventh in 2009 in 59.82 and finished fifth the following year in 1:00.02. He did not go out for swimming as a senior as he elected to focus on football, a sport that he went on to play at Iowa State. “Jorden was a great breaststroker,” Crouch said. “I only coached him in my first season, but I remember his pure size and strength being better than just about everyone in that event.”
Hines was one of Ankeny’s first state placewinners in 1992. He took seventh in the 100 breaststroke in 1:01.86, setting a school record at the time.
400 freestyle relay: Trent Frandson, Jae Swanepoel, Lance Swanepoel and Brek Stukerjurgen combined for the second-fastest time in school history of 3:06.30 at this year’s state meet. They tied for third in the event, allowing the Hawks to edge Waukee for second place overall.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Ankeny Fanatic teams were selected by publisher Dan Holm, who consulted with former and current coaches before making his picks.)