Big win tonight for Denison’s Men’s Swimming & Diving Team, as they edged Kenyon College for the D-III National Championship and became the first new team to win the title in 31 years. Since 1980, Kenyon has won that event, often by large margin. I was there for three of them in college, when I worked as the team manager for Big Red.
At the end of the meet, after they’d won, the Lords would all be frolicking in the pool, and they’d count down their championships. At this point, they were in the high teens, and they’d add one more at the end, as if to say it was a sure thing. That was the worst of it. It wasn’t that they’d not deserved it with their labor, it’s that they expected it, and that no one could challenge them.
When I had been looking at colleges, I looked at both, as I was a swimmer with aspirations, and the difference between Kenyon and Denison couldn’t have been more night and day. Kenyon wasn’t interested in you if you weren’t perfect, I remember a particularly demoralizing meeting with coach Howell when I came in as a prospect. It was clear that there was no place for me in their program in any capacity.
Denison wasn’t like that. Coach Parini was interested in making all swimmers better. I spent my freshman in year in the slow lane, and I didn’t make the conference team, but I did swim in some dual meets for the team. I came off my freshman season in bad shape, and my doc said that if I did another season, I’d likely be facing surgery for my shoulder. I left the pool, but not the team, spending the next three years on deck six days a week from September through March, taking splits, working the deck during workouts, and running the timing system and microphone during the meets. Gregg cared about every person in that program, and wanted the best from them in all the things they did.
If Gregg taught me one thing, it was this: There is no stress when you are where you wish to be. Challenge yourself. Find that intersection of talent and challenge and exploit it. I’m glad to see that his hard work with the Denison program has finally earned him a Mens’ Championship to go with the Womens’ win in 2001.
Proud to be a Denison alum. Proud to be a product of that program.