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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
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Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
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Women’s Swimming tops Conference

The women’s and men’s swimming and diving teams cheer during last weekend’s conference meet. Photograph by John Brady.
The women’s and men’s swimming and diving teams cheer during last weekend’s conference meet. Photograph by John Brady.

The women’s swimming and diving team collected 894 points to win the Midwest Conference Championships, its 15th MWC title in the last 16 years, while the underdog men’s team tallied 893 points to place second in the team standings this past weekend at Russell K. Osgood Pool. It was the first time the men failed to clinch a Conference win in twelve years.

Although the men’s streak of MWC championships came to a close, the meet was no solemn event. When the men’s 400-yard freestyle relay team of Kyren DiMarzio ’17, Kevin Bennett ’16, Joe Lytle ’14 and Michael Brus ’14 huddled to prepare for the final race of the Midwest Conference Championships, despite knowing that the conference title was already out of reach, every member of the men’s and women’s team gathered on one side of the pool, itching to burst out their cheers to support the four men.

“There are so many other positive things that came out of the meet,” Brus said. “We got to show how good of a sport we are as a team.”

When the quartet finished victorious, breaking the conference and school record with a time of 3:06.47, everyone screamed in joy, hugged each other, and even showed tears. After all events were finished, the Pioneers chanted “LFC” to congratulate the Lake Forest’s men team on winning the Conference title while the Foresters changed “GC Pride” to congratulate the Grinnell women’s team.

“I have to give a lot of credit to the other conference schools,” said head coach Erin Hurley, who was named the MWC Men’s Swimming and Diving Coach of the Year for the sixth time. “The conference as a whole [was] a lot tougher, faster and more competitive this year. We have some events that we don’t have a lot of depth in and that is something we will need to rebuild.”


Hayley Levin ’16, the MWC Women’s Swimmer of the Year for two consecutive seasons, led the domination on the women’s side with a time of 4:34.64 in the 400 individual medley (IM), earning her second consecutive NCAA “B” cut in the event.

“Hayley has become a much more experienced swimmer,” Hurley said. “She also has a more balanced approached to her swimming and racing—watching that development is really special for a coach.”

Swimmers automatically qualify to go to Nationals if they get an “A” cut. Swimmers who get a “B” cut are likely, but not guaranteed to go to Nationals, depending on how swimmers in other conferences perform.

Levin also led the Pioneer sweep of first through fourth place in the 200-yard IM with a time of 2:08.88. The event allowed the women to start the Conference on the right foot and they did not miss a beat after that.

“I was so excited because we weren’t ranked [the top four] at the start of the meet,” Levin said. “I think that’s what got our team going. One of the first events was the 200 IM on Friday and everyone just exploded from the very first session all the way to the end.”

In the event, Beth Tsuha ’17 was second in 2:11.16, Josie Bircher ’16 placed third in 2:12.86 and Maddy Pesch ’16 finished fourth in 2:13.12.

Levin was also joined by Bircher, Chloe Briney ’17 and Tsuha in the 800-yard freestyle relay to win the event in 7:47.81. The time broke the conference record set by Lake Forest last season and the school record, as well.

Levin triumphed in the 200 breaststroke in 2:28.04 and in the 400-yard relay team with Briney, Beth Gillig ’15 and Tsuha. The relay team finished the last event of this weekend’s conference by breaking the conference and school record with a time of 3:34.23.

“Teamwork in practice is essential [for relays],” Levin said. “I feel like we get so much more out of our practices because we practice with the boys, too. For relays, with the positivity, you have people backing you up no matter what. We’ll stand by you and cheer our brains out for you. You celebrate together and that’s what it’s all about.”

Maddie Gray ’16 swims breaststroke at Conference last weekend. Photograph by Tela Ebersole.
Maddie Gray ’16 swims breaststroke at Conference last weekend. Photograph by Tela Ebersole.

Other individual victories came from Tsuha in the 200-yard freestyle race with a time of 1:55.15 and Gillig in the 100-yard butterfly, finishing in 57.96.

“It was hard to jump back into swimming [after study abroad] because of tough practices,” Gillig said. “Our team is so supportive. Even though practices were really hard, there’s always someone yelling encouragement. And that’s why I came back—for the team.”

The ladies collected their points outside of first place, as well. The 200-yard freestyle relay team of Briney, Gillig, Callie Eyman Casey ’14 and Tsuha placed second behind Carroll University. The time of 1:38.54 broke the conference and school record.

The 200 medley relay quartet of Sara Hannemann ’14, Pesch, Gillig and Briney was a runner-up in its event with a time of 1:48.93. The 400 medley relay squad of Hannemann, Pesch, Levin and Tsuha, meanwhile, also finished second, missing the school record by only 0.05 seconds.

Katie Lottermoser ’17 finished fifth in the 200-yard backstroke to break the school record. Her time was 2:10.83, almost two seconds ahead of the previous record.

“Katie broke the school record twice and she got fifth, so that shows our conference has gotten really fast,” Gillig said. “It was exciting to see how happy she was.”

The women showed they can handle long distance in the 1650-yard freestyle as Jalyn Marks ’16 and Bircher finished second and third respectively. Immediately after the mile race, Marks managed to place second in the 200-yard butterfly, while Maddie Gray ’16 took third.

The women’s diving crew performed well last weekend, as well. In the three-meter dive, Tiffany Nguyen ’16 led the fellow Grinnell divers with 422.05 points and came in third. Emma Falley ’15 and Tea Cakarmis ’17 followed suit with fourth and fifth place finishes, respectively.

Nguyen qualified for NCAA Regional Championships in her three-meter dive.

In the one-meter dive, it was Falley who led the squad with a score of 373.20 points, good for fourth place. Nguyen and Cakarmis finished fifth and seventh.


On the men’s side, Conference play was highlighted by the men’s 800-yard freestyle relay.  Bennett, Thomas Robinson ’16, Lytle and Brus swam the event in 6:54.11 to make the NCAA Division III “B” cut, while handily breaking the conference, school and pool records. The four men also dropped six seconds from last year.

“When I first came here, Michael Brus and I were in that relay. We smashed the school record and conference record, [and] people said it wasn’t going to be broken,” Lytle said. “Ever since then, we wanted to get a relay team in the National [meet]. Kevin Bennett dropped a ton of time—put up a split that we needed to get the relay started. Thomas Robinson and I put up splits right where we expected to be and Michael Brus got in and did his thing. It’s four years of work finally culminating into one race that everyone rallied around.”

Lytle’s relay partners agree the excitement of the race was through the roof.

“I felt excited to be able to improve on last year’s race and to be able to take a shot at making a Nationals cut,” Robinson said. “The overall excitement from the race was overwhelming, really.  Both Joe and Michael had been wanting to get a relay to a Nationals cut and it was awesome that I could help make that happen.”

Four-time MWC Men’s Swimmer of the Year Brus made “B” cuts in the 200-yard IM, 200-yard freestyle and 200-yard backstroke as well. He beat the runner-up in 200-yard IM, an event he does not often swim, by more than two seconds as he finished in 1:50.91 to shatter his own MWC and school record (1:53.28), and meet and pool record.

“I was most nervous for the 200 IM,” Brus said. “I just wanted to win that. That took a lot of my focus initially because I didn’t think past that.”

Lytle, Ben Weideman ’15 and Chris Merchant ’17 placed third, sixth and seventh in the same race, respectively.

Brus swam the 200-yard freestyle in 1:39.19 and 200-yard backstroke in 1:46.86. Brus displayed his dominance in his favorite event, in which he established the NCAA Division III record in the 200-yard backstroke in last year’s Conference.

Ian Dixon-Anderson ’17 made an impressive Conference debut, qualifying for two “B” cuts. Despite placing second in the 400-yard IM, he achieved the “B” cut with a time of 4:06.13.

Dixon-Anderson also destroyed the conference and school record in the 1,650-yard freestyle with a time of 16:03.54, besting the old conference record by 15 seconds and Brus’ old school record by over 32 seconds on his way to earning his second “B” cut.

“The biggest standout moment for me was when Ian Dixon-Anderson broke my mile record by a lot,” Brus said. “He crushed it and I loved it. The first 1,000 yards of his mile broke my 1,000-yard freestyle record, so he broke the 1,000 and the mile record in one swim. Records are set to be broken. That’s why they’re up on the wall—so people can break them.”

The Pioneer men snagged another win in the relays, as the 200-yard medley team of Brus, Elsas, Austin Cote ’15 and Lytle clocked in at 1:34.81.

Robinson notched a victory in his 500-yard freestyle event. Being chased by two Lake Forest swimmers on each of his sides, he edged the second-place finisher by two-tenths of a second.

“Zach Wenner [of Lake Forest] is also a great swimmer and I needed to keep an eye on him, so I was mostly focusing on staying level with him for the majority of the time,” Robinson said. “I just remember repeating in my head that I had to win and that I couldn’t let the other two swimmers catch me.”

In the nature of the Conference meet, Robinson was able to dramatically cut time over the weekend.

“[Robinson] dropped 17 seconds in the morning to end up being the top seed,” Lytle said. “He dropped 21 seconds overall in the course of one day. That’s Conference for you. Getting out there and doing crazy stuff that you never thought you could be able to do, solely because you’re tapered, hyped up and you just want to perform for the team.”

In diving, Daniel Goldstein ’16 swept his events, winning both one and three-meter dives with 492.60 and 489.35 points. He was awarded the MWC Men’s Diver of the Year.

“I was very confident in my ability and just wanted to go out and do what I knew that I could do,” he said. “I think that most of the credit goes to [assistant coach] Deidre [Freeman] because she is an amazing coach and before I came to College I was nowhere near as good as I am now.”

Looking Foward

Six swimmers and two divers are still continuing their seasons and practicing as they could potentially advance to Nationals. The team gives a lot of the credit to Coach Hurley.

“She knows exactly what to say and when it needs to be said, whether it’s what you want to hear or not,” Brus said. “She knows how to help you set goals to reach your full potential. That’s just on the athletic side of it. She is also a resource to all of the athletes outside the pool, as well. I can’t say enough good things about her.”

And her serious yet light-hearted disposition has made swimmers and divers believe the final score is not everything, win or lose.

“I think the fact that we swam up that much is a phenomenal performance,” Lytle said. “Regardless of who came out on top team-wise, everyone had a blast and dropped a ton of time and ultimately that’s what swimming’s about—competing with yourself.”

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