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Swimming looks to finish strong in final meets

Two weeks ago at the Grinnell Invitational, for the first time in six years, the Grinnell Men’s Swimming team beat Luther College. On Saturday, they will be faced with the challenge of doing it again—this time in Luther’s pool. 

Both the men’s and women’s squads are preparing for their final two competitions before the Midwest Conference Championships in mid February. They will make the trip to Coe College and Luther, neither of which is a conference opponent, for dual meets today and tomorrow, respectively. The two competitions will cap off what Assistant Coach Tim Hammond considers to be a remarkable season. 

“This is definitely the best season we have had since I have been here, the most dedicated team,” Hammond said. “In the past, we’ve had very dedicated swimmers, but as a whole team this is the most dedicated team we’ve had.”

The Mad Dogs and Mad Ducks performed at a consistently high level all season, but the men’s win over Luther was especially fulfilling. 

“That was a big deal for the men’s team,” Tom Lankiewicz ’12 said. “It was our big rival and our last meet in [Obermiller Pool], so it was good to take them down.” 

Grinnell managed to sink the rival Norsemen by a hefty 30 points, and proceeded to make a good showing at the Carleton Mini-Invitational the following week, with the men’s team taking first place. Lankiewicz owes the surge in energy that overcame Luther to the swimmer’s recent training trip to Florida over Winter Break. 

“It was really good with team bonding,” Lankiewicz said. “Coming off of that, I feel like we’re more of a team. We’ve got good energy coming out of Florida, and I think that’s really helped us in the past couple of weeks.” 

Saturday’s matchup against Luther proves especially interesting for Hammond, a Grinnell native who swam and coached at Luther before coming to Grinnell College. 

“I’m not certain that I spoke it vocally when I first came here, but I knew that Luther had out-swam Grinnell for many years while I was on that team at Luther, and I knew that I wanted to help Grinnell be the better team,” Hammond said. “[Head Swimming Coach Erin Hurley] and I spoke about not necessarily out-swimming Luther, but about the training they were doing.” 

By focusing on implementing a more advanced strength program over the last three years, the Grinnell coaching staff has built a team that regularly competes with more traditional Division III juggernauts.

 “People on the Luther team, as well as their coach, have pointed out that we look much stronger,” Hammond said.

The Mad Dogs will have to rely quite a bit on their strength and confidence to take down Luther again this weekend. 

“I think it’s going to have to be that same energy that we had during the invite,” Lankiewicz said. “A lot of team spirit, a lot of getting people motivated and really cheering on our teammates. We’re going to have to step it up. It’s going to be the hardest duel we’ve had.”

Both teams continue to pick up steam heading into the MWC Championships, where they hope to be crowned as team champs once more. 

“We always plan to repeat, and we plan to repeat again this year,” Hammond said. “There are some teams that are getting better—Lake Forest has gotten progressively better in the last two to three years—and are going to be a challenge for our team. As a whole, I’m confident that both [the men’s and women’s teams] can do it again.” 

Lankiewicz is confident about another conference championship as well. 

“We’re taking ‘em down again,” he said.

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