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Swim and Dive looks towards conference play after success in Florida

Swim and Dive teams journeyed down to Florida for two weeks in preparation to defend their unbeaten streak in conference play.
Swim and Dive teams journeyed down to Florida for two weeks in preparation to defend their unbeaten streak in conference play.

By Jon Gomez

Earlier this January, both men and women’s swimming and diving teams took their annual trip to Naples, Fla., where they spent their days training and improving their technique, hoping to continue the most recent string of strong performances. According to swim and dive’s head coach Erin Hurley, “We are down there for about ten days and it gives us an opportunity to really gel as a team in the sense of really high-quality training with a lot of relaxation because they are not doing schoolwork … then we swim [against] Connecticut College which is a nationally-ranked team that also trains down there in Naples each year.”

In addition to training, Coach Hurley discussed the other activities that the student athletes participated in. “We do a community service project when we are down there at Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center where we help eradicate invasive species and we also have an alum that joins us down there and works stroke technique with the team during off-training times,” said Coach Hurley.

Coach Hurley emphasized that this is a precious time to really focus on skill and technique in an environment away from academic stress and is supplemented by the team bonding that occurs with so much time shared together. “The training period in Florida is basically essential for the rest of our time. We work so hard and it really sets us up for the rest of the season,” said Ben Johnson ’23. During the Connecticut College meet in Naples, Johnson supported his statement by recording the 11th-fastest 400-yard individual medley time in school history. Johnson mentioned that the milestone was definitely reassuring for him, especially since there is a bit of pressure to continue Grinnell’s undefeated conference record.

Unfortunately for some, the training trip only had the capacity to bring 53 of the 80-plus team members and thus made the availability somewhat competitive. “It is really hard to pick our most competitive team at that point because we still have a good six to eight weeks left in our season,” said Hurley.

The competition from the strong recruiting classes is partially what maintains the Grinnell men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams’ improvement year after year. According to Coach Hurley, “If we have returners who come in and don’t feel like they have to or want to improve because they feel content with where they are at and don’t feel the push from the team, we don’t get better as a team. Everyone gets better when you have the opportunity day-in and day-out to train with people that will push you and support you.”

The men and women’s swimming and diving teams will have their next meet at Macalester College this Saturday, Jan. 25 at 1 p.m.

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