Swimming and diving continue to impress

Sam Catanzaro, Sports Editor

catanzar@grinnell.edu

The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams have gotten off to a hot start this season. Photo by Sno Zhao

The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams have gotten off to a hot start this season. Photo by Sno Zhao

The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams are two of the most consistent teams at Grinnell, and two weeks ago they upheld this reputation by rolling past Loras College in their home openers.

“It was great for getting swimmers and divers in the mindset of competing,” said Tiffany Nguyen ’16, a diver and one of the women’s captains.

Nguyen, in winning the three-meter dive with a score of 222.15, helped the women earn a 181-98 victory over Loras.

“I think I did very well considering that I injured [my ear drum] earlier in the week,” she said.

Other event winners for the women included Josie Bircher ’16 (1000 freestyle), Malena Maxwell ’18 (200 backstroke) and Beth Tsuha ’17, who continued to impress, claiming four titles.

“She is strong in just about every single event,” said head coach Erin Hurley of Tsuha, who won the 100 backstroke, 200 breastroke, 400 individual medley and helped contributed to the winning 200 freestyle relay team.

On the men’s side, strong performances by seniors Tim Sherwood ’16 and Daniel Goldstein ’16 led the team to a 180-84 victory over Loras. Goldstein picked up victories in one- and three-meter diving, while Sherwood won three titles in the 400-medley relay, 100 backstroke and 500-freestyle relay.

“I kind of got lucky in who I was swimming against in the events I swam in, but I did well. I was happy about it,” Sherwood said.

With their respective victories, the men moved to 3-0 on the season while the women improved to 2-1. This success is partly due to the low level of competition the teams have faced, but also to the great depth they each possess. Versus Loras, 24 Grinnell swimmers and divers earned titles, meaning they are strong not just in one or two events, but across the board. For the men, much of this depth can be attributed to what first-year swimmers are bringing to the team.

“They are all training super hard, they are going really fast and I think they fill some important holes in the team in terms of depth in certain events,” said Tristan Knoth ’17.

The women and men have a few swimmers abroad this fall, meaning the team has had to step up and act as a cohesive unit to win this season.  This is something that Hurley has emphasized in practice and is now seeing it come into effect during meets.

“They are working very, very well together. They all know they have their own roles in an individual sport with a team atmosphere,” Hurley said.

Nguyen, who as a diver is somewhat separate from the swimmers in terms of practice and competition, attributes part of the team’s improved chemistry to Mike Retelsdorf, the new diving coach, saying that he has been not just giving the divers great advice but also reaching out to the swimmers as well. This mindset, Nguyen thinks, will help the women defend their Conference title, for which they will compete in February.

“What we need to do is get there as a team rather than an individual,” Nguyen said.

For the men, the price of sore bodies and busy schedules is just part of the price they are willing to pay in the quest to avenge their second place finish at Conference last year. 

“The meet that really matters is Conference in February,” Sherwood said. “We are just trying to get used to swimming tired because then when we get to Conference we can swim really, really fast.”

This weekend, the men and women will have their first taste of real competition when they host the Pioneer Classic on Friday and Saturday. With 13 teams arriving in Grinnell ready to race with their fastest swimmers, the level of competition is sure to be high. A three-day event squeezed into two days, hosting the Pioneer Classic entails a lot of work for Grinnell, but according to Hurley, it is worth it, saving the team from having to travel right before hell week.

“We would be going on overnights to the middle of Nebraska just to find the competition and facility that can hold that type of competition,” Hurley said.

Competition begins at 6 p.m. Friday and then concludes with two sessions Saturday at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.