The meet took place over the weekend of February 13-15. At the end of three grueling days, the women finished with 1253 points, more than doubling second-place Lawrence University, which had 583 points. The men stood with a score of 1301.5 points, well ahead of second-place Monmouth College. On both sides, the teams dominated the leaderboard, breaking records and reaching goals.
Both the men’s and women’s team swept the relays, which hadn’t been accomplished since 2005. “The ten-relay sweep was money,” said swimmer Tom Lankiewicz ’12. “It was something we needed to do.”
On the women’s side, Morgan Bober ’12 shined throughout all three days of the meet. On the second day of the meet alone, Bober was responsible for breaking the school record, the pool record and the overall MWC record in the 100-yard breaststroke with a preliminary time of 1:06.39. The MWC meet record hadn’t been broken since 1996, while the school record hadn’t been broken since 1984. Breaking these records also earned Bober a NCAA “B” qualifying standard.
“If we get to go [to nationals], that’s great, but otherwise, we have three more years. I think it’s fantastic that we’re already here,” Bober said. “It’s a goal, but you never think that it’s realistic and then all of a sudden it might be.”
On the final day of the meet, the women’s team was led by Valerie Stimac ’09 who shattered four records while winning the 100-yard freestyle. Stimac broke her own school record set in 2007, as well as the meet and overall conference record from 1998. Morgan Horton ’11 (the S&B’s Opinion editor) gained more wins for the women’s team with first place in the 200 butterfly as well as by participating in the 400 free-style relay team which also included Meghan McDoniel ‘10, Casey Strickler ‘12 and Stimac.
Though most teams were not seen as competition for both the men and the women, Monmouth College managed to ignite a fire within the Pioneers.
“Monmouth hung their kilt over our Maddog Mascot,” said Cy Mistry ’11. “So we took it to the next level.”Lankiwicz went one step further in criticizing the actions taken by the Fighting Scots. “It was poor sportsmanship and we didn’t like that,” he said. “We had to stick it to them.”
Lankiewicz and Mistry both broke school records on the second day of the meet. Lankiewicz’s time of 4:15.30 in the 400 IM broke an 18-year-old Grinnell record.
“I really thought that some goals were out of my reach, but I think that good coaching got me there. I accomplished my goal,” Lankiewicz said. “I really wanted to set the team record, and I did. I honestly didn’t think that I could do it. It was great to prove myself wrong.”
Mistry broke his own school, meet and pool records by placing first in the 200-yard breaststroke. His time of 2:07.5 provisionally qualified him for NCAA “B” nationals, though he will have to wait a couple of weeks to know for sure.
“I was honored to get a B-cut, and I felt really good about my swim,” Mistry said. “All the hard work we put in paid off. Nationals will be on another level, but it’s definitely something I want to experience, if not this year, in the future.”In diving, Nick Smith ’10 and Kelly Bruce ’12 were respectively named men’s and women’s Divers of the Year. Smith placed first in both the one-meter and three-meter diving events.
Bruce dominated Women’s diving, also placing first in both the one- and three-meter diving events. Bruce completed the event with a NCAA “B” qualifying score.
“I’m just really excited because no one’s ever really sure if they’re going to make cuts,” Bruce said. “It was more exciting to see people meet their goals.” Both the men’s and women’s sides believed that their success was due to the dedication of their coach Erin Hurley, who received the title of Men’s Coach of the Year.
“This meet was a big deal on Hurley’s part, she’s a phenomenal coach,” Mistry said. “Definitely deserved getting named Men’s Coach of the Year.”
As a team, Grinnell saw no serious competition at the meet. The depth of Grinnell’s swimmers and divers proved to be a tough match.
“On an individual basis, in different events, it’ll be one good swimmer from one school, but not one specific school that can compete with us,” Bruce said. “A lot of my competition is on our own team. It’s nice; they’re there to push you, but at the same time, there’s no pressure. We just have fun together.”