Iowa Alumni Magazine | June 2009 | People

Bill Maxwell

By IAM Staff
Strength and conditioning coach Bill Maxwell pushes UI student-athletes to maximize their potential.

Energy-zapped and soaked with sweat, the Hawkeye swimmers don't think they can lift another barbell.

Bill Maxwell insists that they can. The swimmers don't argue—and not just because Maxwell towers above them with the muscular build of a former college football player. Maxwell, the UI's strength and conditioning coach for Olympic sports, knows his stuff. Earlier this year, he became one of only 80 coaches nationwide who have earned the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association's prestigious Master Strength and Conditioning Coach distinction. In his 12 years at Iowa, Maxwell has worked with most UI teams (except for football and track and field) to create the specialized fitness programs that tone the Hawkeyes. "Everyone's searching for that extra variable that will put a team over the top," says Maxwell, who provides that edge for Iowa.

Whether assigning lower back exercises to rowers or shoulder movements to swimmers, Maxwell uses strength and conditioning to increase his athletes' range of movement; strengthen their bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments; and help prevent injury. First drawn to the field as a high school football player, Maxwell now enjoys watching student-athletes' confidence rise as they push their bodies to new limits.

For the men's swimming program, Maxwell's motivation made all the difference. Throughout the preseason at the Field House, he guided the swimmers through four hours a week of warm-ups, weight room and technique exercises, and major leg and upper body exercises. Maxwell also carefully monitored the team's nutrition, prescribing frequent small meals, lean protein, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. The intense training contributed to an undefeated season at home and wins against several ranked teams in dual meets.

Maxwell has been the muscle behind many of the Hawkeyes' winning moments, but his primary rewards come from transforming good athletes into great ones. UI coaches know that when their players spend time with Maxwell, they will return with lessons about character, determination, and teamwork that will translate on and off the field. "Make no mistake, talent is still the prime commodity," says Maxwell. "But once you have talent, you still have to train and learn the skill and strategy of your sport."