By Yishi Liang
The Grinnell swimming and diving team hosted the Pioneer Classic last weekend under the leadership of head coach Erin Hurley and assistant coaches Tim Hammond and Deidre Freeman.
The women’s team won the meet with 1047.5 points, beating out ten other teams, including William Jewell College, an NCAA Division-II team.
Hayley Levin ’16 placed first in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:08.92. Levin faired equally well in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:29.35, beating out her closest competitors by over four seconds.
Grinnell also placed second in six other swimming events (200 medley relay, 800 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay, 200 freestyle and 1650 freestyle) and third in five events (the 400 individual medley, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke, 200 backstroke, and 200 butterfly).
In diving, Emma Falley ’15 won both events, totaling a score of 327.85 in one-meter diving and 350.65 for the three-meter. She was named the Midwest Conference Women’s Swimming and Diving Performer of the Week.
Tiffany Nguyen ’16 was another one of Grinnell’s top divers at the Classic, placing third in the one-meter event with a score of 317.05.
As for the Pioneer men, the team finished with a score of 997.5 and was a close second to William Jewell, who tallied 1067.45 points.
Top performers included Michael Brus ’14 and Gus Fulgoni ’15. The two, along with Beck Ringdahl-Mayland ’13 and Emanuel Spooner ’13, made up the winning relay team in the 200-yard medley, clocking in a time of 1:38.45. Brus and Fulgoni were winners in their individual events as well. Brus won the 200 backstroke in 1:57.02. Fulgoni claimed the same result in the 50 freestyle at 21.88 and as part of the 200 freestyle relay team with a time of 1:28.46.
The men also had a number of swimmers place second in four events (400 individual medley, 100 butterfly, 100 breaststroke, and 400 freestyle relay) and third in three events (200 freestyle, 200 breaststroke, and 200 butterfly).
Though it clearly did not show in this invitational, the team has recently been adjusting to a new dynamic because of the departure of many seniors last semester.
“The team’s currently in a rebuilding phase,” Hurley said. “But they really stepped it up and showed what they’re capable of. Other people have stepped into new roles and have done a really good job.”
Adjustment will continue to prove vital for the rest of the season. Since the swim season takes place over two semesters, there are several swimmers who are currently studying abroad and will join the team at the beginning of next semester.
From the outstanding performances that the swimmers have shown so far, these new members will have a very good team to come back to. With the arrival of the third-year swimmers and continued efforts to improve technique, Coach Hurley sees the team as “being right on track to peak in February.”
For this meet in particular, it was the setting of Grinnell’s campus that really helped the team perform at their best.
“We cheered louder than we ever did before,” Fulgoni noted. “We had a really good turnout of Grinnellians. It was cool having a bunch of different people come out and support us.”
Being able to swim in the pool at Grinnell’s swimming facilities isn’t too bad either.
“Our pool is amazing. I’ve never seen a pool this nice. We’re spoiled,” Levin said.
The team will have to say goodbye to the pool here pretty soon, though. During winter break, about half of the team will head to Florida for a highly intensive training session before hosting an invitational against Connecticut College on January 7.
In Florida, the team has a schedule of training, fun and team bonding waiting for them.
“There, we do two practices a day. We swim a lot in the morning then we run and another practice at night,” Levin said. “But we also all get put into rooms and we get money to cook.”
To supplement their training and in following with swimming tradition, some members of the team have been abstaining from shaving to add drag and hopefully improve their times for conference.
If this is the case, the Pioneers are set to perform exceptionally well at conference and beyond. Fulgoni was able to set the record in the 50 freestyle for the Midwest Conference this season at the Classic despite the drag.
“I did ‘No-Shave November,’ so the beard was in full force at the meet,” Fulgoni said.