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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Imelda Wistey, first year, makes a huge splash

The newest star of the Grinnell Women’s Swimming team and Grinnell sports at large has a love for dolphins from the Philippines, and as Russ Motta would say, ”Who knew?”

Feeling at home in the water, Imelda Wistey '14 poses for a portrait in the Bear Natatorium after practice on Thursday evening - Andrew Kelley

Imelda Wistey ’14 of West Des Moines started thinking about swimming at a very early age when her mom told her that she would have to learn how to swim if she wanted to join the dolphins during a family trip to the Philippines. Unfortunately, she has yet to encounter any dolphins, although swimming seems to have worked out for her.

In some respects, Wistey is a typical college student. Her favorite books are the Harry Potter series and “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and her favorite movies are the Lord of the Rings series. When it comes to swimming, though, the average college student comparison ends.  As a first-year, Wistey has already been recognized as the Midwest Conference College Performer of the Month twice, captured the school record for 100-yard breaststroke and, as of last week’s meet at Loras College, shattered the records for 200 breaststroke and 200 IM.

Wistey was not into the idea of swimming early in her childhood. Unlike her younger sister who was immediately enamored with the sport, Wistey found it to be boring. Despite her father taking her to private lessons throughout her youth, her mind didn’t really change until she was 14.

Fortunately for Grinnell, at 14 Wistey’s interest in swimming spiked and she decided to join the USA Swimming Club team.

“I decided to become more serious in the sport, and I wanted something that was more intensive,” Wistey said. “Plus I wanted to see how far I could go with it, so I decided to switch over.”

Wistey first became an athlete when she picked up a pair of ice skates at the age of six. She did not stop there as her interest in sports grew to gymnastics by the age of nine, and then dancing by the time she was ten. She enjoyed each of these at equal levels depending on the stage of her childhood she was in.

Wistey isn’t only an athlete though. She is also passionate about the arts, most notably writing and music. In her spare time when she’s not bombarded with athletics and college work, she takes time to write poetry and short stories, which she uses as an outlet. Additionally, she loves playing the violin, which she has kept up with since middle school.

“If I’m not swimming, I’m studying, if I’m not studying then I’m writing and if I’m not writing then I’m playing the violin,” Wistey said.

Though many schools tried to attract the Wistey’s talents to their programs, Grinnell was able to win her over as soon as she stepped on campus. She could have gone to an equally competitive swimming program, but she would not have had the challenging academic experience anywhere but at Grinnell. Having the intellectual stimulation creates a good balance for Wistey and, she believes, even increases her ability to perform athletically.

Other factors that led to her decision were the obvious camaraderie of the team, the leadership of the coaches and the beautiful new natatorium that is above and beyond what other D3 Midwestern colleges can boast.

Her biggest adjustment from high school has been managing a balanced schedule. The other major difference has been representing the College.

“It’s also a whole new atmosphere because you are not only swimming for you, but you are also representing your college which is an honor,” Wistey said.

Looking ahead, Wistey hopes that she can excel both academically and athletically each year here and keep making breakthroughs.

“I plan to do the best I can in swimming all four years here in Grinnell and continue to focus and strive for all my goals that are appropriate for each year,” Wistey said.

Despite not yet being able to take that trip to swim with the dolphins, she still plans on trying to make that happen in the future. She went to the Philippines seven times before she knew how to swim and now has a burning desire to return. Before she can have this opportunity though she will have to take to the waters of Grinnell’s new natatorium this Friday and Saturday for the inaugural Pioneer Classic.

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