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Swimming and diving look to make splash at Conference

The women’s swimming and diving team will look to defend their Conference title this weekend. Photo by Jun Taek Lee

Sam Catanzaro, Sports Editor

The women’s swimming and diving team will look to defend their Conference title this weekend.  Photo by  Jun Taek Lee
The women’s swimming and diving team will look to defend their Conference title this weekend.
Photo by Jun Taek Lee

For NFL players, it is the Super Bowl, for youth baseball players, it is the Little League World Series and for Leonardo DiCaprio, it is the Oscars. For members of Grinnell’s men’s and women’s swim teams, an equally prestigious event will take place this weekend: the Midwest Conference Championships. When the Pioneers enter the hallowed grounds of the Russell K. Osgood Natatorium this Friday, they will be ready to truly showcase a season of hard work.

The women will go into the Championships as defending champions and despite still being favorites, head coach Erin Hurley expects a close meet.

“Every team in the Conference has a minimum of a few swimmers who have a chance to take a title and mix everything up,” Hurley said.

Whereas last season Lake Forest College was the women’s toughest competition, a revamped Carroll University is hot on the Pioneers’ heels.

“Our strongest competition is going to be Carroll this year,” said Maddy Pesch ’16. “We’re stronger than they are in distance but they have some really good sprinters, so I think it will be a good fight in a lot of events.”

The men, who won Conference in 2013, have finished second behind Lake Forest College the past two years. On paper, Lake Forest is still the favorite, but the gap has been closed. In previous seasons the men went into the Championships knowing their chances of winning were very low, but this year they will enter the pool with a title within their reach.

“This year, looking at the times across the board, it could go either way,” said Kyren DiMarzio ’17. “It will be a much more fun meet knowing we have a shot to win.”

For the men and women, the path to the Conference Championships did not begin in chilly Iowa, but rather in sunny Florida where the team spent a week training over winter break. With strenuous workouts both in the pool on the beach, the team uses this trip not just as time to replenish Vitamin D levels, but also to put in the hard work that will give them the confidence needed to win a title.

“It’s great for stepping your game up, eating healthy and treating your body well,” said Nick Roberson ’18.

In addition getting their bodies into herculean shape, the Florida trip cultivates the team chemistry that is signature of championship teams. Living in close proximity and cooking meals and doing laundry together, the trip to the Sunshine State brings everyone together in a way that has lasting effects when back in the Hawkeye State.

“We started a group chat after Florida,” Roberson said. “It is completely out of hand, but that is the point. It gives everyone something to talk about.”

Fans will have ample time to watch the swimmers and divers chase Conference dreams this weekend at the natatorium. Competition begins 10 a.m. today, Feb. 19, and after a break in the afternoon, will resume at 5:30 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 20 and 21, the morning sessions will begin at 9 a.m. and the afternoon sessions at 4 p.m.

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