“Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” That sentiment seems to hang over the Grinnell Women’s Swimming Team at this point in the season, when the team is tired and practice is long.
This past weekend during the Pioneer Classic, however, the women got to see firsthand that hard work pays off, as they once again affirmed their stance as a powerhouse. Our school of swimmers won impressively in a field of 11 teams, five of which are Midwest Conference members, by more than doubling the score of the second place team, Augustana College.
Head Coach Erin Hurley saw the home-pool advantage as a definite plus, especially considering the timing of the meet.
“It’s a hard time of the year, with finals coming up. For us not to have to travel and to be able to host was a huge plus,” Hurley said.
“I think it went really well, it was good to see people really pushing themselves even thought they were really tired. A lot of the other teams that we were swimming against were rested for this meet,” said team captain Morgan Horton ’11. “Whereas we had gone into it really tired after a hard week of practices without having a lot of rest ahead of time.”
Horton herself had an impressive outing as she won both the 500-yard freestyle and the 200-yard butterfly, as well as swimming on the 400-yard freestyle team that took first. An- other impressive performance came from break-out first-year Imelda Wistey ’14, who won the 200-yard IM, the 100-yard butterfly, the 200-yard breaststroke and the 100-yard breaststroke—where her time of 1:03.93 qualified her for the NCAA Division III National Championships.
“It was an amazing race to watch, she’s a great swimmer. She’s a great athlete. She works so hard. She’s so modest about how fast she is,” teammate Jenna Beeler ’13 said. “She deserves it.”
According to Wistey, she was confident of capability—it was just a matter of time.
“I knew I could do it,” Wistey said. “I just didn’t know when I would qualify.”
Wistey is also trying to reach Nationals in the 200 breast- stroke and IM, something Beeler believes she is capable of doing.
“She can do it. I mean, if she doesn’t do it this year—which would really surprise me—she’ll accomplish that next year,” Beeler said.
Regardless of how the rest of the season goes for her, Wistey knows not to look too far ahead.
“Definitely [going to take the rest of the season] one meet at a time, if I think about the end it will just be overwhelming,” Wistey said. “So one meet at a time, one practice at a time and just going from there it will lead up to that final race of mine.”
One of the biggest differences to this season is the team’s access to a much-improved facility, the Natatorium of the Charles Benson Bear ’39 Recreation and Athletic Center, which opened earlier this year.
“You feel like you’re swimming on maybe a little bigger scale,” Beeler said. “Practices have been more manageable. We’re able to have more space. We can do starts more often. We are able to do more technical-orientated work. That’s helped.”
Horton notices benefits to the distance swimmers as well.
“With the old pool we would have three of four people in a lane and you would always have to deal with people passing each other and in the new pool it’s not that uncommon for you to have your own lane or being sharing with only one other person. So there’s a lot of room to stretch out and have your own space so you can focus on your stroke more, which is really beneficial,” Horton said.
The team will not take a hiatus from meets for the next month, while they practice, take two week’s off for winter break and then head to Florida in early January.
“We’re trying to maintain right now, keep everybody healthy, but there’s a constant reminder of when you go home for two weeks do not flush everything we’ve done,” Hurley said.
Once in Florida, it’s back to hard work.
“The focus is just solely on training. So we swim twice a day, we workout, we do core, Plyometrics,” Beeler said.
Upon returning from the Sunshine State, the team will host the Grinnell Invitational on Jan. 21-22—a meet Hurley sees as critical.
“That’s going to be a huge meet, we’ll have like 400 people here. Way more challenging than the competition we saw in December just because we’ll have some Division II teams,” Hurley said. “It’s going to be really tough for us, but it will be great preparation for Conference.”
With plenty of the season left, there are many possible turnouts for its remainder.
Still, Horton has been incredibly impressed with the sea- son so far.
“A lot of upperclassmen are going two, three or four seconds fasters than they had last year at this time, which can only mean good things for the future. … We have a really strong team environment this year that I don’t know has existed as well in the past. I’m just really happy to end my swimming career at Grinnell with such a strong group of people that are so supportive of each other.”