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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Win For Pioneer Swimmers and Divers is a Classic

Last weekend, Grinnell was host to 12 schools across the Midwest for the last swim meet of the semester—the Pioneer Classic. While last year the women’s swimming and diving team managed to take first place and the men just barely elbowed into second, this year both teams finished atop the podium.

The men’s team ended with 1205.5 points, 203 more than runner-up Augustana College, and the women’s team had 1219.5 points, nearly twice as many as second-place finisher Loras College with 635.

Sam Ross ’16 prepares to dive off at the Pioneer Classic. Photograph by John Brady.

“We saw some fantastic time drops and great swims from people … we were swimming kind of tired after practices, so it was exciting to see us swim fantastically even with all of that,” said Eric Mistry ’14.

The meet brought a mix of Midwest Conference competitors and other schools from around the Midwest. Augustana College, Beloit College, Carroll University, Coe College, Illinois College, Knox College, Loras College, Monmouth College, Principia College, Ripon College, Simpson College and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls were all in attendance for the meet.

“The Grinnell team, both men’s and women’s sides, stepped up big time and really swam amazingly well … people really swam out of their minds. The teams did great,” said Clare Gunshenan ’14.

So far this year, Grinnell’s swimmers have had a habit of blowing the competition out of the water. The women’s team has won their last three meets while the men’s team remains undefeated.

“We had a lot of season bests and quite a few personal bests in the swimming and diving events … Not only did Jalyn Marks [’16], Beth Tsuha [’17] and Tiffany Nguyen [’16] win their events, they made significant improvements in their events. Plus Chloe Briney [’17] dropped the fastest 50 and 100 free split we have had this season,” wrote assistant coach Tim Hammond in an email to the S&B.

In addition to being named the Midwest Conference Women’s Performer of the week, Briney was named Grinnell’s female athlete of the week, while Michael Brus ’14 was the male athlete of the week. Brus claimed four events for Grinnell, including individual victories in the 200-yard freestyle (1:46.14) and 200-yard backstroke (1:56.86).

“Everyone’s been doing really well … there’s no point in resting during this part of the season so [the coaches have] been putting us in tough events and events that we don’t swim very much,” Gunshenan said. “So at every meet everyone’s been really challenged but everyone’s been doing a really amazing job at stepping up and pushing themselves outside their comfort zone so every meet has been a success regardless of the final score.”

With the season approaching its halfway point, the team expects to see even more remarkable performances and hopefully take home the title at the Conference tournament in February. The Pioneers will be able to swim and dive with home-pool advantage at both Conference and Regionals, as both will be held in Grinnell.

“Since I have been here at Grinnell, we have always had the goal of winning the Conference Championship. This year we are also working toward getting more individuals and relays to the national meet,” Hammond said.

All of the dedication and hard work the Pioneers have put forward in both meets and practices have led them to great success this season and they show no sign of slowing down.

“If the team meets the challenges of their training that we as coaches provide for them in the pool and on land I expect we will see great things. Our women and men are already [en] route to breaking records and qualifying for the national meet,” Hammond wrote.

While the Pioneer Classic was the last meet of the semester, the teams will not be resting just yet. Instead, they will be packing their bags and heading to Naples, Fla. for an intense training trip. From Jan. 2 to 14, the team will be in for essentially non-stop swimming sessions, with schoolwork not being a factor.

Tiffany Nguyen ’16 glides into the water, hardly making a splash. Photograph by John Brady.

“[It’s] really intense, but you go there for swimming and nothing else, so it’s not like you’re juggling school to go along with the workouts and it’s another experience, that’s for sure. It’s a lot of food, a lot of napping and a lot of swimming” Gunshenan said. “It’s definitely a bonding experience and it’s definitely mentally and physically challenging, but it’s amazing.”

On Tuesday, Jan. 7 the team will compete against Connecticut College while in Florida and afterwards, once they’re back in Grinnell, the swim teams will host the Pioneer Invitational on Jan. 17 and 18—another major meet filled with great competition.

“Obviously, I think both of the teams are in a really strong position to do well at Conference, if not outright win it. I think this meet really showed that … even when we’re up against really good competition, we can pull it out and win it,” Mistry said.

Until then, the team will work on getting into tiptop shape, shaving off time and working on both their tans at the beach and technicalities in the pool.

Eric Mistry is Business Manager for the Scarlet & Black.

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