Both swim and dive teams are Midwest Conference champions


The women’s swimming and diving team won their sixth Midwest Conference Championship title in a row last weekend. The men’s team also won their third title in a row. Contributed photo.

Will Telingator

The women’s swimming and diving team won their sixth Midwest Conference Championship title in a row last weekend. Contributed photo.

Another swimming and diving season is over, and both the men’s and women’s teams won the Midwest Conference Championship (MWC). Winning this title has become something of a routine for the swimming and diving teams, as the Grinnell women claimed their sixth Midwest Conference title in a row  — and 19th in the last 20 years — while the men won their third consecutive championship — 15th in 17 years.   

A lot of their success can be attributed in part to Head Coach Erin Hurley, who just completed her 23rd season as Grinnell’s head swimming and diving coach. In her time leading the program, Hurley has been named MWC Women’s Coach of the Year five times, MWC Men’s Coach of the Year nine times, and MWC Coach of the Year three times — in addition to one year where she was named Co-Coach of the Year.

Such a history of success breeds high expectations, and the swimming and diving team entered the season with their sights set on defending their crown.

“As defending conference champions for both men and women, we did have team goals to repeat as MWC champions,” Hurley wrote in an email to The S&B. However, Hurley also notes that the team had goals beyond winning the title. “We are looking for personal improvements from each member of the team. They all have individual goals and our focus as a team is to help them reach their personal goals.”

The teams achieved both of these goals this weekend, as a series of amazing individual performances culminated in a team championship for the men’s and women’s teams. Among some of the standout performers on the women’s team were Maria Venneri ’18 and Madeline Peak ’21. This season, Venneri was named the MWC Swimmer of the Year for the second time in her career, and she added to her spectacular season with two more victories on Sunday, giving her a total of nine league titles in her career. Furthermore, Madeline Peak ’21 had a breakout first season in the MWC, as she was named MWC Newcomer of the Year and finished competition on Sunday with five league titles.

On the men’s team, a pair of first-year stars helped lead the way to victory. Paul Cover ’21, the MWC Swimmer of the Year and Mitch Sevier ’21, the MWC Newcomer of the Year, won their respective events and now each have five league titles to their name.

Fourth-year diver Katie Parrish ’18, who placed third in the three-meter diving event for the third medal of her career, is quick to acknowledge the integral role that the first-year class played in the team’s success this season.

“We had a killer first-year class come in. They are incredible kids. Not just talented at swimming, but just wonderful people.”

Paul Cover ’21 also credits team chemistry with being a key factor in winning the conference championship. He notes that the upperclassmen worked hard from the outset of the season to cultivate a tight-knit team community.

“As a team we knew we wanted to get everyone involved and working together both inside the pool and out of it. Our upperclassmen are really careful to build a collaborative, great culture, and once they set the standards for us as a group we all came together well,” Cover wrote in an email to The S&B.

Standout diver Summer White ’18, who qualified for regional competition in San Antonio, has won the Midwest Conference Championship in every year that she has competed at Grinnell.

“It was a good way to go out,” White says. “It was nice to have a celebratory moment as the season came to a close. For the fourth-years, it was a really good capstone on what’s already been a positive experience for so many people for so many years.”

The men’s team also won their third title in a row. Contributed photo.