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The Scarlet & Black

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Feven Getachew
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Michael Lozada
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Harvey Wilhelm
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Swimming returns from Florida to host own invite

By Hayes Gardner

Over winter break, while the Midwest enjoyed an unseasonably warm winter, the Grinnell men and women’s swim and dive teams went on a training trip to sunny Florida. For two weeks, the Pioneer swimmers lived a regiment of eating, breathing and swimming. This annual trip provides the swim team with a tough couple of weeks of training while building team chemistry.

“[The trip] is a great team experience. They get to spend some real quality time together, training, cooking and living together in a setting that allows them to train outdoors and experience another part of the country,” Head Coach Erin Hurley wrote in an email to the S&B.

Distance swimmer Caitlin Short ’12 also saw the team advantages of the trip.

“It is really important for building team community. I’ve always found I know people on my team so much better after Florida,” she said.

“It’s a lot of fun down there, but it’s also a lot of hard work,” Michael Brus ’14 said.

In Florida, alarms are set early, as the bus leaves for the training pool at 6:30 a.m. Students aren’t late for the bus either—for each minute that one person is late, everyone must be on the bus five minutes earlier the next day.

“In all four years that I’ve gone, we’ve never had to go earlier,” Short said.

Practice runs from 7-9 a.m., with a less intense practice lasting from 4-6 p.m. Short said the frequent practices benefited the team more than the one-a-day practices on campus.

“We accomplish more in the same amount of time,” she said.

While in Florida, the Pioneers competed in a dual meet against a talented Connecticut College team on Jan. 10.  The men’s team lost 113-92 while the women fell 160-45.  However, Brus and Coach Hurley both emphasized the positives of the meet.

“Normally, the meet down there is not good because we’re all exhausted,” Brus said.

This year, Coach Hurley challenged the team: if 30 percent of team members achieved season bests, they would be able to get out of one practice. Though the Pioneers didn’t win the meet, they did achieve this goal.

“I thought our team raced really well. Many swam faster than they had the previous year. When they are training at such a high intensity, it can be challenging to have a competition in the middle,” Hurley said.

“I think [the Connecticut College meet] serves to give good practice … as well as sort of a reality check for where we’re at as a team,” Short said.

In addition to the extensive training and the swim meet, the team also enjoyed a day on the beach and a reception with Grinnell alumni, making for a well-rounded experience.

The team was able to make the trip a successful one, despite some health issues. One diver had to go to the ER due to a case of appendicitis and a handful of other swimmers caught the flu towards the end of the trip.

However, the Pioneers were forced to bounce back quickly. After they returned to campus, they competed in their own Grinnell Invitational on Jan. 20 and 21. The men won the seven-team competition, edging out Gustavus Adolphus College 1290.5 to 1239.5, behind Brus’s individual wins in the 200-yard freestyle and 200-yard backstroke, as well as Colin Yarnell ’12’s first-place finish in one-meter diving.  The 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays also notched victories.

The women’s team tied for fourth out of 11 in the Invitational, led by Kelly Bruce ’12’s second-place finish in three-meter diving and Danielle Phillip ’15’s third-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke.

Overall, winter break was an eventful one for the swim team. They fought illness, competed against tough teams and grew closer together, which the swimmers see as one of their favorite parts of the trip.

“I like swimming because of the team,” Brus said. “We all get along so well.”

The Pioneers are back in action this weekend at the Macalester Mini Invite, then will compete in a dual meet against Coe College, followed by an off weekend and then the MWC Championships in Appleton, Wis.

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