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Mini invitational gives last chance to perform before conference

Grinnell swim and dive teams participated in a relaxed invitational as they look to conference play just a week ahead


Grinnell swim and dive teams participated in a relaxed invitational as they look to conference play just a week ahead

By Seth Bartusek

The Grinnell women’s swim team placed well in Saturday’s mini-invitational, the last regular season event for these Pioneers prior to the upcoming Midwest Conference Tournament coming Feb. 14 to 16. Hosted at Osgood Pool, the Pioneers had two triple winners, Nikki Schlegel ’22 and Cate Roberts ’23, to cap off a very successful day racing against several club teams from schools in the area, including Iowa State and University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Three different relay squads took home first place finishes (400 freestyle, 200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay were wins), as seven swimmers and two divers won individual events. With the upcoming Midwest Conference tournament, this mini invitational is one last chance to gain confidence in a competition prior to the postseason.

            “This is different from the average meet because it’s club teams from DI schools,” said Victoria Kinnamon ’23. “For some people this is the last weekend they’re competing so it is really exciting for us to watch them and people are swimming a mix of events, so it is an exciting mix where everyone’s doing different things.”

            In contrast to some of the other meets throughout the year, some of which can get as large as nine teams competing, the mini invitational is a change of pace for the team ahead of tests to come.

            “Different contests require different performances, makeups and mindsets,” said Athletic Director Andy Hamilton ’85. “We have two very large invitationals throughout the year, one in December and one in January, and those meets are great because they’re very similar in setup of the Midwest Conference meet. In comparison, there is some genius to providing the other experiences like with the smaller meets because athletes in this setting can excel, which gives them confidence going forward.”

            The mini invitational is held annually at this time in the season, a seemingly strange time for such a relaxed meet to happen. However, Hamilton knows that there’s a purpose behind this seemingly small event.

            “By and large we give our coaches a lot of autonomy with how they set up their schedule,” said Hamilton. “I think the reason we do this meet when we do it, is to allow as many swimmers as possible to perform their best in a relaxed setting, and I know that those performances go into decisions about their lineups for conference.”

With this meet over and done with, the last big showdown left on the schedule is the conference tournament. Despite the upcoming tournament, coach Erin Hurley is focusing on all the positive parts of the season.

            “Our goal is to get another [conference] title,” said Hurley. “But there are so many ways to evaluate that three-day meet beyond the end result. We work all year long to get to conference but at the same time there are so many more pieces throughout the season that go into the tournament, it becomes a lot more than who touches [the wall] first.”

            To prepare for the biggest meet of the year, the team has begun a program of tapering, essentially swimming less distance to help your body build up for a big meet.

            “It’s a process,” said Madeline Peak ’21. “It’s nice to take time to get over some of the fatigue from the season, but it is so easy to get out of shape in swimming that its essential to stay with [your routine].”

            With one week left until the conference tournament, this is the time to put the finishing touches on the season. The conference tournament will be hosted at the Osgood Pool, Feb. 14 to 16. Events tend to last throughout the day, but the championship races are held in the evening. With just a short window left, the team and its fans are very excited.

            “The conference meet is a grade up,” said Hamilton. “All the time I witness these awesome interactions between athletes which is a great part about the meet. There’s also a focus and expectation that goes into it which is exciting, but there’s an electricity that comes with more people in the stands which make it a highlight of the season.”

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