By Natalie Duncombe
The Grinnell College swimming and diving team is coming off a strong showing against Macalester College as they look towards the end of their season.
Both the men’s and women’s teams soundly defeated the opposing Scots 167-72 and 190.5-92.5 respectively.
“We had a really strong meet,” said team captain Manu Spooner ’13. “[We were] still aching a bit coming off the pretty intense Florida trip, but we had a lot of really good swims, even some life-time bests and season bests.”
Despite being in the midst of a tough training and meet schedule, the Pioneers had a strong performance.
“We came off a really big meet prior to [the Macalester Meet],” said Head Coach Erin Hurley. “The Grinnell Invitational was preliminaries and finals. It’s usually a little difficult for the team to get up to that high of a level the next weekend. … For the most part, we performed very well as a team.”
Standout performances from the men’s side included Dylan Gray ’14 in the 200 breaststroke and 400 individual medley with times of 2:15.82 and 4:33.24, respectively, which also received him recognition as the Midwest Conference’s Men’s Swimming and Diving Performer of the Week. Daniel Goldstein ’16 also performed well in the one and three meter platform diving events. His score of 277.5 in the one-meter qualifies him for the NCAA Division III Regional Men’s Diving meet in March.
On the women’s side, Beth Gillig’s [’15] times of 1:00.76 in the 100-yard butterfly and 4:55.21 in the 400 individual medley earned her the honor of being the Midwest Conference’s Women’s Swimming and Diving Performer of the Week.
“I just went out there and went for it,” said Gillig on her success. “I think everyone did that, all the girls did really, really well.”
The team is looking to make a splash at two smaller meets this weekend against the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Swim Club on Friday, February 1 at 6:30 p.m and Coe College on Saturday, February 2 at 1p.m.
“In an individual sport, any time you have the chance to go against the clock is good,” Hurley said about the meets. “[Coe and UNL] are smaller teams, but what’s key is to have two competitions two weeks out from conference.”
For some, the meets this upcoming weekend will mark the end of their season.
“People who aren’t swimming at Conference, some people are tapering for this meet so that’s going to be really great for them,” Gillig said. “It’s going to be really great to support them because these will be their final swims.”
Hurley echoed Gillig’s support.
“For a good 25 people on the team, it is their last competition of the season,” Hurley said. “We definitely want to make sure they’re in the events they need to be in, and that they’re getting full support.”
Looking to the end of their season, the Pioneers are optimistic as they look to Conference and beyond. The men are looking to defend their title as Midwest Conference Champions, and the women are looking to reclaim that title after losing to Lake Forest in 2012.
“I’m really excited for Conference,” Gillig said. “The women’s team is awesome this year, and I’m just so excited to see what we’re going to do. I mean, who knows, anything is possible.”
“Conference will be the biggest challenge of the year for us,” Hurley said. “For the women, we’re the underdog for the first time in 12 years, so they definitely have an agenda. For the men, every team is scraping any point they can to take away from us, so we’re really going to have to be on top of our game and give it a full team effort.”
The Pioneers will be swimming on their own turf for the Conference Meet. The meet will run February 15-17 in the Russell K. Osgood Pool.
“Just being in our home territory is going to be great,” Gillig said. “It’s going to be pretty magical, I think.”