Seals Club, The University of Iowa, 1923
Photographer: Frederick W. Kent
The Seals Club was founded in the spring of 1920 by a group of students to promote an interest in swimming among University women. This photo is in the 1924 University of Iowa yearbook.
The 1922 yearbook (p.269) stated:
The Seals Club, one of the newest athletic organizations for women, was formed last spring as the outcome of the first annual swimming exhibition given by the men and women of the University. Membership at that time was limited to those women who took part in the exhibition. Miss Anne Boillin, instructor in the department of physical education for women, was elected coach of the club.
The purpose of the organization is to promote interest in swimming, fancy diving, and other aquatic sports among the women of the University. Tryouts for new members are held at various times during the year, and those girls are selected who show the greatest ability in swimming and diving.
The May 19, 1920 Daily Iowan announced “Men and Women Hold Swimming Meet at Armory Tonight”. Tickets cost 35 cent and 275 (of 300) had been sold by the printing of the May 16 Daily Iowan. The admission was to defray the expenses connected with the annual canoe race to be held May 29. The DI listed the events: Eel slide; 40-yard dash; bag stunt; men’s fancy diving; potato relay; 100-yard relay; 100-yard breast stroke; plunge for distance; women’s fancy diving; 40-yard swim, hands and feet tied; 100-yard back stroke; sinking of battleship featuring human submarine and hydroplane; 40-yard dash (freshman); 200-yard men and women handicap relay; imitation of muskrat, bicycle, lobster, butterfly, somersaulting, demonstration of life saver’s leaps; demonstration of strokes—crawl, Italian crawl, side stroke, under arm, over arm, English racing over arm, back stroke, flutter kick with alternate arm, inverted breast, breast stroke, special Hawaiian canoe by Eel swimmers; 100-yard swim and push ball.
This was the first swimming event at Iowa in which both men and women took part. The women only participated in fancy diving and a handicap relay, which was the feature of the meet. The May 21, 1920 Daily Iowan gave the results; the Handicap relay race was won by the men (men swam 200 yards, women swam 160 yards).
In the fall of 1919, it was required that women needed to pass swimming receive a B.A. The June 6, 1920 Daily Iowan reported that 230 of 245 sophomores had passed the swimming requirement and 183 or 410 freshman women had passed. “All sophomore women who failed to pass their requirements will have their work marked unfinished for this year and will be required to make up the same next year. Freshman women will have a second chance next year to pass the requirements and will not have their work marked unfinished for this year, said the instructor.”
The paper also reported: “Florence Barnes ’22, Pi Beta Phi, holds the year’s record in having passed her requirements in the least number of lessons. Having no previous knowledge of swimming whatsoever, Miss Barnes succeeded in passing all requirements in her fifth time in the pool.”
Read more about the growing women’s physical education program in the October 12, 1919 Daily Iowan (p.6)