Eric Hansen left his mark on the Iowa State swimming program, ending his career as one of the most decorated swimmers in school history while competing for the Cyclones from 1985-88. The Sioux City, Iowa, native earned All-America status in the 50-freestyle, 100-freestyle and the 100-backstroke six times, was named the outstanding performer at the Big Eight Conference meet twice and was a member of the United States National team from 1987-92.
Hansen emerged on the national scene as a junior in 1987 when he captured Big Eight titles in the 50-freestyle, 100-freestyle and the 100-backstroke. He was named Big Eight Swimmer of the Year after his impressive performance at the conference meet. He went on to earn All-America honors in all three events at the NCAA Championship, finishing third in the 50-freestyle.
As a senior, Hansen finished as a three-event All-American with three top-six finishes at the 1988 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships. He racked up his second straight Big Eight Swimmer of the Year Award after winning three Big Eight titles (50 free, 100 free, 100 back) for the second consecutive season. His highest finish at the nationals was a fourth-place effort in the 100-backstroke, an event he still holds the school record in. His impressive accomplishments earned him a share of the 1988 ISU Male Athlete of the Year award with ISU Hall of Famer and Olympian Jeff Grayer.
Hansen gained additional acclaim as an international swimmer, competing on the U.S. National team from 1987-92. Hansen swam in the 1987 World Games in Yugoslavia, where he captured two gold medals in the 400-free relay and the 400-medley relay. Individually, the Cyclone tanker placed fifth in the 50 freestyle and sixth in the 100 freestyle at the World Games. He was the U.S. national champion in the 100 backstroke in 1990 and he later served as captain of the U.S. Team for the 1991 World University Games.
Swimming continues to be the major focus in Hansen’s life. He spent the last five years as the head men’s and women’s swimming coach at Wisconsin. In his first four seasons with the Badgers, he led the women’s program to four top-20 NCAA finishes and has paced the men’s squad to three consecutive top-20 performances. Twenty-two of his Badger student-athletes have earned All-America status 107 times in his first four seasons. In 2003, Hansen was the head coach of the U.S. men’s team at the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.