Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

An interview with Gregg Parini, Head Swimming Coach at Denison University

by Seth Costello

Recently, I sat down with Gregg Parini, Head Swimming Coach at Denison University, to ask him about his ongoing interactions and experience with Covid-19. Needless to say he’s still learning, as are the rest of us. When I asked him about how he felt going into NCAA’s he told me that he had a sense of what was coming, “you could see the storm coming” he said. Parini knew that the winds were not in his favor and with the domino effect of events and sports cancelling he knew it was time to notify his swimmers of the inevitable. Having a senior-laden team this year, Parini understood what this year meant to a lot of his athletes. He emphasizes the theme of Improvise, Adapt & Overcome and becoming a fan of adversity, that it’s the best type of teaching medium to use to continue moving forward. “We’re going to be alright, on the other side.”

Parini went on to hold some time trial swims that following Saturday at 9 a.m. The Women’s 200 Medley relay that previously held the national record went on to break it swimming a 1:39.3. On the Men’s side there were plenty of personal records as well. Parini said that he was incredibly proud of the courage that the swimmers portrayed to get back up on the blocks considering the external challenges. “We’re doing our very best to not go down the what-if road.”

We went on to talk about the NCAA and how it has handled the situation at hand. Parini had a warming answer stating “the NCAA handled this as well as they could.” In the light of all this madness there is no playbook for how to handle something like this. “People are sick and people are dying” Parini said, the way the NCAA shut everything down to contain the spread was as best they could do. With so much uncertainty surrounding the virus and a possible second wave approaching the U.S. soon, there is no real answer to when competition will open back up. Finances are becoming the next topic of discussion that will arguably hit Division 3 swimming harder than the virus. Division 3 sports are at risk of underfunding as the NCAA as a whole has lost revenue due to the virus. Parini went on to say “the power five will shift dramatically – major sports programs are projecting losses so what does that mean for us?” 

Moving forward, I asked Parini what the next months look like for not only himself, but the Denison swim program as well. In summary, he doesn’t know what is in front of them but assures that they are moving forward constantly and that the show must go on. The plan for the team is to keep operating as if next season is going to start as planned, adding that he has a great group of self-motivated, hard-working student-athletes.

He ends the interview with an idea that there will be two groups of people that come out of this pandemic. The people who can channel their creativity and those that can channel their diligence and hard-work, they will be the ones that succeed. Parini left by saying that he doesn’t know what the environment will look like coming out of this but he does know that Denison will be there and will be a force.

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