The men’s and women’s swim teams opened their seasons with a splash, competing in two meets each in which they demonstrated why they were both Conference champions last season.
On Friday, the men beat Coe College 167-65 with 7 individual wins including Kevin Bennett ’16 (200-yard freestyle), Daniel Goldstein ’16 (1-meter diving) and Ian Dixon-Anderson ’17 (100 butterfly). The women also impressed, trouncing Coe 150-86 in which Maddy Pesch ’16 (100 breaststroke) and Tiffany Nguyen ’16 (3-meter diving) were among individual winners for the Pioneers.
On Saturday, in an away meet against Luther College, the men’s team extended their record to 2-0 with a dominating 171-113 win, while the women’s team was narrowly defeated 155-145. In these meets, the Pioneers set multiple pool records, including Maddy Pesch ’16 in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:31.11, Ben Grubb ’19 in the 200-yard freestyle (1:48.04), Ian Dixon-Anderson ’17 in the 200 butterfly (2:03.30) and Daniel Goldstein ’16 in the three-meter dive (316.75).
For her efforts, Pesch was named the Midwest Conference Women’s Swimming and Diving Performer of the Week. Despite her personal accolades, Pesch picked out Beth Tsuha ’17, Haley O’Neill ’18 and Taylor Hurney ’18 as strong performers in the meet.
“Beth Tsuha is performing great, she’s our top freestyle right now. … Haley O’Neill and Taylor Hurney are pulling through in the sprinting,” Pesch said. “We’re seeing a lot of the second-year women really stepping up to the plate this year, which is really cool because we have some third-years abroad.”
Although setting records receive the most fanfare, finishing with a faster score than your opponent is all that is necessary to take home the win. Therefore, the victories of Rhett Lundy ’18 in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke and Dixon-Anderson in the 1000 freestyle may have not set any records, but were just as important in the Pioneer’s victory.
Dixon-Anderson, who won the title of MWC Men’s Performer of the Week, also singled out solid performances by underclassmen as one of the positive takeaways of the meet.
“It’s really exciting to see all the first-years come in and do well, [because] we all trained and worked hard,” Dixon-Anderson said.
Luther College has developed into a rival of Grinnell, partially because of the close competition between them, and partially because the assistant men’s and women’s swimming coach Tim Hammond is a Luther alumnus. According to Pesch, Hammond enjoys the dynamic of coaching his current college against his alma mater, and he always has information to share about Luther.
“We’ve had a rivalry with them for a while, so it’s … fun to go back and forth between races,” Pesch said. “[Hammond] always has these fun facts to share and I think he really enjoys going back there as well.”
Men’s and women’s head coach Erin Hurley sees no reason to doubt Hammond’s loyalty despite his affiliation with the competition.
“His heart is here,” Hurley said. “I do not question at all where he’s focused and who he’s following.”
Another factor in play this season for the Pioneers is the presence of new diving coach, Michael Retelsdorf, from Omaha, Neb.
“The improvements that the divers are making are dramatic since the start of season to now,” Hurley said.
Players and coaches pointed to the challenges of having matches on two consecutive days, as well as to their strenuous offseason training regime. The ability to face these challenges and stay focused is a positive sign for the Pioneers going forward.
“We got back around 11 o’clock on Friday night and then left again on Saturday morning, but it was probably the best performance in consistency that we’ve had,” Hurley said.
The strong performance in this meet will only raise expectations for the rest of the season.
“Because of the intense training that some of our team is putting in, I didn’t expect that they would perform as well as they did. But thankfully they showed us some impressive stuff and therefore I have even higher expectations for them as the season progresses,” Hammond wrote in an email to The S&B.
The men and women will go on the road again this weekend to play Monmouth College. Fans can see the Pioneers in action on Nov. 21 when they host Loras College at 1 p.m.