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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Olympic trial dreams dashed, GC swimmer Enrique Valero Ying looks forward

Enrique Valero Ying ’23 is a star swimmer on Grinnell’s men’s swimming and diving team. Contributed photo.

Grinnell swimmer Enrique Valero Ying ’23 was scheduled to compete in the Arena Grand Prix Senior Tournament in Tijuana, Mexico, a competition which is equivalent to the US Olympic Trials for Mexican collegiate athletes, according to Ying. The event, planned for April 2-6, was cancelled due to COVID-19, leaving Ying in the “unfortunate” situation of not being able to use the training he had in the Grinnell season in his national bouts.

Ying also qualified for Mexico Nationals in July, but he said that this event, too, is likely to be either postponed or canceled.

Even with the complications of cancelled events, the biology major and Mexico City resident remains positive about the situation. “I am optimistic that things will start to look up by June. I am hopeful that I could at least get some training towards the end of the summer, so even if the Nationals gets canceled, I could still get a head start before the next season,” he said.

Ying’s qualification for the Mexican tournament came as result of his Midwest Conference Tournament times this semester.

Ying had an outstanding first season at Grinnell, winning the 400-meter individual medley in 4:03.90 as well as taking part in the champion 400 medley relay team that finished in 3:27.68. He was runner-up in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes with 59.12 and 2:08.86 and took part in the second-place 200 medley relay team that finished in 1:36.31. Above all, though, Ying won the Male Newcomer of the Year in the Midwest Conference.

“I chose Grinnell for its excellent academic reputation and outstanding swimming program,” said Ying.

What really drew him to the school, though, was Erin Hurley, who was just awarded her fourth consecutive and tenth overall Men’s Midwest Conference Coach of the Year Award. “As soon as I met with Coach Erin, I knew I would be committing to Grinnell as my [early decision]. I was drawn by her sweet, calm but resolved mannerism. … I was convinced right away.”

Under his training this year at Grinnell he spoke of the advancement he felt within the program: “With merely 5 months of training under Coach Erin, my techniques improved, my body stronger, my mind focused,” he said.

Ying’s history of swimming started after a serious bike accident in sixth grade, leaving him with broken bones and a concussion. “Swimming played a significant role in my recovery physically and mentally. I then started competitive swimming when I moved to Singapore in eighth grade, and it has been an important part of who I am ever since,” he said. “I qualified for Mexico Nationals when I moved back to Mexico in my high school Sophomore year. I completed my high school education in Mexico.”

Although his competitive future remains uncertain, Ying has a productive outlook: “As a swimmer you learn very quickly not to dwell on one event or one meet. You have to have the ability to learn and adapt, and to focus on your next event, next meet and next Nationals.”

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