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Grinnell women’s swim and dive pick up vital win in time for conference

Grinnell swim and dive look towards conference after a big win over Macalester.
Grinnell swim and dive look towards conference after a big win over Macalester.

The Grinnell women’s swimming and diving team picked up a big win last Saturday against Macalester College. It comes at a crucial time, as they gear up for the Midwest Conference Championships. Eight swimmers won races for the Pioneers as they cruised past the Scots for a 170-127 win.  

“It was such a special meet for the team,” said Victoria Kinnamon ’23. “You spent a lot of time together on the bus and everyone really bonded, even though its away, people are just excited for this meet.” 

The last full meet before the Conference Championships Feb. 14-16 (the Pioneers will host a mini-invite this Saturday), the Macalester meet was a chance to put the finishing touches on an already successful regular season. This winter break, the team took their annual training trip to Florida and competed against Connecticut College, where they lost 76-161. After returning home, the squad bounced back, placing first out of nine teams the Grinnell Invitational meet hosted at the Russell K. Osgood Pool. Yet, an away meet at Macalester meant unfamiliar territory and another test.  

“The Macalester meet is always fun because we have lots of alums, friends and family in the Twin Cities area, so there’s a lot of emotion going into that meet,” said Madeline Peak ’21. “But it’s our only overnight meet of the season so it’s exciting, and a lot of people swim different events with Conference coming up so it’s a little different.” 

The meet began successfully, with Victoria Kinnamon ’23 and Tori LaVerdiere ’20 finishing first and third respectively in the 1000-yard freestyle, putting the Pioneers ahead for the first time, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Continuing her already successful season, Marguerite Devine-Mraz ’21 won in both the 200-yard butterfly and the 400-yard freestyle relay. Madeline Peak ’21 also had a stellar day, winning in the 50-yard freestyle and the 400-yard freestyle relay, and finishing second in the 100-yard freestyle.  

“That race is always so exciting because it’s such a tossup,” said Peak of the 50-yard freestyle. “All the seed times are so similar so I wasn’t sure how it would go, but I had a good swim that weekend, and it’s always a good feeling to touch the wall and look up and see your name first.”

Of the eight swimmers who won races, three won in two events. Other notable performances include Kendra Howard ’23 winning in the 500-yard freestyle and the 400-yard freestyle relay with both Devine-Mraz and Peak. Sarah Weltz ’21 won the 200-yard breaststroke, Maria Eure ’22 in the 200-yard backstroke, and Xonzy Gaddis ’22 in the 100-yard breaststroke.  

“It’s really cool to see how deep we can go,” said Coach Erin Hurley. “Macalester’s women’s roster has gotten a lot stronger over the past few years, but because we are the largest conference school, we put in one of our better lineups which was very successful.”

Looking ahead the Pioneers will host a mini-invitational on Saturday.  

“It’s definitely different from your average meet,” said Kinnamon. “For some, this is the last weekend they’re competing so it is exciting for them and I think we are all exited for what everyone is swimming.” 

Next come the Conference Championships, the ultimate test for a successful team. 

“This year the women’s conference competition at the top has gotten better for a variety of schools,” said Hurley. “So, we’re going to go in not seeded first in numerous events but have the opportunity to play to our depth, conference rules only allow eighteen to score points but all those eighteen can score points for us.” 

But for now, the Pioneers can celebrate a big win against Macalester. 

“From here we’re looking ahead,” said Peak. “Macalester is a point in the season for you to see where you’re at, but now I’m looking forward to swimming the 50 free and all the relays and setting the tone early.”

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