The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Pioneer’s swim and dive sweep MWC Tournament honors

Nikki Schlegel ‘22 and Head Coach Erin Hurley receive their awards.
Nikki Schlegel ‘22 and Head Coach Erin Hurley receive their awards.

By Eva Hill

Last Sunday, the Pioneer Men’s and Women’s Swim Teams dominated the Midwest Conference (MWC) championships, taking home both titles. For the women’s team, it was their seventh consecutive win, and their 20th in the past 21 years; currently they have a total of 24 MWC wins. For the men, the title was their fourth in a row, and their 16th in the past 18 years, with the men’s team having 41 MWC wins in total.

Madeline Peak ‘21 came in first in the 50-meter freestyle with a time of 24.04, making her the new conference record-holder for the event. In addition, Peak, along with Enya Gamble ‘22, Olivia Konieczny ‘21, and Kaia Clarke ‘21, made up the relay team that broke the previous conference record with a time of 1:37.47.

On her record-setting 50-meter free, Peak said, “It was really exciting, because [the previous record for that event] was one of the oldest records on the board, from 1988 – I’ve been looking at it for a while.” Regarding the relay team’s record-setting time, she said, “We all got really excited about it — it was just a really fun group of people.”

Kai Vorhies ‘19, one of the captains of the men’s team, described how he felt heading into the championships. “Anything could go wrong, but we were really confident going in that we’d win, and we put a lot of work in throughout the season to get to where we were, so it felt good to win.”

Nikki Schlegel ‘22, who was named Outstanding Newcomer Representing a Women’s Championship, won the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 2:06.36. She was four seconds faster than the runner-up and recorded the second-fastest time for the event in conference history.

All three swimmers interviewed emphasized the importance of the caring environment fostered within the teams. Peak explained that she wasn’t sure if she was going to continue swimming after high school, but meeting the people on the team convinced her to join. “They’re some of the nicest people I’ve ever met — they’re such a great community of people,” she said. “[Joining the team] is definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Vorhies said, “We’re focusing a lot more, in recent years, on team image and making sure anyone can feel welcome on the team — not that that’s been a problem, but that’s one of the main things we want to be on the swim team. We’re there to be with the people who choose to be on the swim team, so making sure that everybody who wants to join can join and have a good time is one of the most important things.”

Head Coach Erin Hurley won Coach of the Year Representing a Men’s Championship, and Vorhies emphasized the importance of her role on their continued success, “Erin is legitimately — I’m biased — but it’s not stretching any bounds to say Erin is one of the best coaches to have existed in the history of this planet.”

Schegel summed up the team’s chemistry by explaining the supportive environment she witnessed at the conference: “On Saturday night, when I had [400-meter individual medley] finals, I played my walk-up music, and the whole team was on the other side of the pool, dancing and getting me hyped up, and it was really special and I couldn’t stop smiling – I was trying to stay focused before the race but I just couldn’t stop smiling, and that really gives a testament to how my team is always making me stay relaxed and stay present in the moment and not be so serious, and it helped me out with that race, because it’s always really mentally exhausting and physically exhausting, so I was really grateful.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *