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Swim and Dive’s MWC Domination moves into its teens

The Grinnell men and women’s swimming teams defeated Robert Morris and the University of Nebraska Swim Club this past weekend at the Russell K. Osgood Pool. Though the competition was minimal, the times were impressive.

Grinnell swimmers practice on Wednesday, Nov. 9. Photograph by Andrew Kelley.

“[The meet] was pretty incredible,” said Co-Captain Max Fulgoni ’12. “A lot of people were swimming as fast as they were at the end of last season. It was a very good start.”

As the 2011-2012 season starts, the Pioneers have their eyes set high and plan to continue on a tradition of Midwest Conference domination. The men have been conference champions for 15 years and the women have for the past 13 years, though their streak was almost broken last year.

“It was a phenomenal meet,” Boeber said. “We went into it knowing that there was a good possibility of not winning. We knew that we would have to swim with everything we had to win, which we did. The team as a whole stepped up in incredible ways.”

At just under 100 swimmers, this year’s squad is the largest in Grinnell history.

“We have a really big class on the men’s side,” Head Coach Erin Hurley said. “There isn’t as many on the women’s, but there’s a lot of really good leadership.”

Despite losing a group of talented fourth years and a first-year standout, Hurley believes that the Pioneer women can continue swimming competitively.

“We lost a lot to graduation,” Hurley said. “This is a chance to let the underclassmen step up, [but] we also have a lot of really good leadership. We’re strong in women’s diving with returning All-American Kelly Bruce [’12] and we have a good sense of community.”

Bruce placed 14th at last years NCAA Division III National Championships, becoming the first All-American female diver from Grinnell in six years.

According to Coach Hurley, the men are also strong.

“The men are particularly fast in the sprint freestyle,” Hurley said. “Especially Max Fulgoni, Gus Fulgoni [’15] and returning All-American Michael Brus [’14], … he can really swim anything.”

Brus earned fourth place last year at the NCAA Division III National Championships in the 200 backstroke. He was Grinnell’s first All-American male swimmer since 1991.

With this talent and a reputation for strong performance, the Pioneer men have their eyes set high.

“We’d like to win conference again and send as many people as possible to Nationals,” Fulgoni said.

“[As well as] get higher than 24th at Nationals,” co-captain Sam Sherwood ’12 added.

The Pioneers have a few standout first years this year.

“Danielle [Phillips ’15] and Beth [Gillig ’15] are both versatile,” Hurley said. “Beth’s a great sprinter, and she’s got some really different nuances with her stroke, so if we can get that figured out I think she’s going to go even faster.”

At last week’s meet against Robert Morris and University of Nebraska Swim Club, Gillig won the 100 Fly and 200 Freestyle.

“Danielle can swim breast stroke, IM and freestyle,” Hurley said. “She’s been training really well and showing that she can do a lot more than we thought.”

Phillips won the 100 Breast Stroke, 200 IM and was part of the winning 200 Medley Relay at last week’s meet.

Phillips says she was happy with her performance.

“It was a nice start to what I hope is a great season” Phillips said.

According to Phillips, the transition from swimming in high school to swimming at Grinnell has been smooth.

“The team dynamics here are great,” she said. “Everyone supports each other and has a lot of fun.”

Grinnell’s next home meet is Sunday, Nov. 19 at 1:00 p.m. against Loras College.

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