Ames coaching legend Flannery selected to Hall of Fame; Flummerfelt also honored in girls' swimming
Taylor Flummerfelt was pretty excited when she got the call informing her she was to be inducted into the Iowa High School Swim Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Then the 2013 Ames graduate received news that she was nominated by her legendary former coach, the late Dan Flannery. And that he was going into the Hall of Fame with her.
"It was a very special feeling," Flummerfelt said. "Knowing that my very first swim coach and someone that is so revered in the swimming community is going in with me is very special. I was pretty emotional."
Flannery tragically passed away from a brain aneurysm in July 2020. He is survived by his wife Jodi, sons Joe and Tommy and daughter Leah.
Flannery swam for Urbandale in high school and Iowa State from 1994-98 in college before being hired as the Ames boys' swimming coach in 1998. He took over the girls' program in 2002.
In 2018 Flannery led the Ames boys to the second state championship in school history. But he really made a name for himself coaching the girls.
From 2010-19 the Ames girls were 140-11-1 in duals. Flannery led the Little Cyclones to eight state championships in that span, and in the two years they didn't win it (2014 and 2019) they placed second.
The eight state championships are the second-most in Iowa history behind Cedar Falls' Dick Marcusson, who won nine. Flannery would have won his ninth last year after the Ames girls brought home the trophy under new head coach Joe Fisher, who had been an assistant under Flannery since 2013.
"Dan, in my humble and biased opinion, is one of the greatest swimming coaches in the history of the state," Fisher said. "It is not the countless Coach of the Year awards, the nine state titles he won, or the countless runner-up finishers and dual-meet wins. It was his connection with the kids. His love of teaching them and building them up. His passion for the sport of swimming and the kids he felt so lucky to coach was an incredible thing to see. I was so fortunate to be on deck watching a true master at work."
Flummerfelt was a member of Flannery's first three state championships from 2010-12. She won three individual state championships — two in the 50-yard freestyle and one in the 100 freestyle — and was part of four relay state championships.
Flummerfelt achieved All-American status five times for her relay achievements and was an 11-time all-state selection for her individual and relays.
"Taylor was one of the foundation pieces that Dan built his run of championships with," Fisher said. "She was there at the start of it. Taylor is by far one of the most decorated swimmers to ever swim at Ames High and, I believe, in the history of girls swimming. While I never coached Taylor, I did have the opportunity to get to know her better over the years as she was finishing high school and into college. What impressed me the most about Taylor, aside from her incredible swimming talent, was the incredible person that she is."
After high school, Flummerfelt attended the University of Iowa and swam for the Hawkeye women's swimming and diving team from 2013-17. She earned her undergraduate degree in Health and Human Physiology.
After finishing her swim career and graduation, Taylor landed a job working for Stryker — a medical device company — where she has been working for the last four years.
Flummerfelt started swimming for Flannery at the Ames Golf and Country Club when she was only 6 years old. Her favorite memories of Flannery involve him putting up with the different taste the girls had in music during practices.
"He'd always have our favorite CDs blasting," Flummerfelt said. "He'd roll his eyes, but he never stopped playing our songs."
As a young adult in the early stages of her professional career, Flummerfelt can't thank Flannery enough for the lessons he taught her in life.
"My employers really value that I'm a college athlete," Flummerfelt said. "I'm definitely thankful for that and Dan is the one who helped me find a love for swimming and the reason I had the success I did."
As great of a coach and mentor as Flannery was, he was an even better father.
"I remember vividly the first time Joe got up on the blocks his freshman year," Jodi Flannery said. "Dan was beaming. He never got to watch Joe play football but he got to watch a few practices and was thrilled for the opportunities that would come Joe's way in a new sport. I can still hear him hollering for Tommy at every club meet and every soccer game. Dan was Tommy's biggest believer."
Leah was born with congenital heart disease. In addition to his countless hours coaching and teaching, Flannery always found time to take care of the two boys while Jodi was in the hospital with Leah.
"She's had six heart surgeries and every single one took place during a swimming season," Jodi said. "I would stay in the hospital, sometimes for a week and sometimes for a month. He would take care of the house, the boys and keep teaching and coaching while squeezing in visits to me and Leah. I don't know how Dan did it."
Jodi said Dan was Leah's biggest advocate.
"After every surgery when she was cleared for water, he took her into the pool," Jodi said. "He always said, 'water heals.' I believe it. He even turned her into a country club swimmer and her first purple ribbon was something out of a movie. Last place never looked so good on a kid and her coach."
Now Jodi, Joe, Tommy and Leah get to look on with pride Saturday as their father takes his rightful place in the Hall of Fame alongside Flummerfelt.
"This is such a wonderful honor for Dan and the whole Flannery family," Fisher said. "Dan's induction is so well-deserved."