Denison, Division III Women’s Swimming Champs, Among College Teams Honored at White House

Photo Courtesy: Denison Athletics

Denison, Division III Women’s Swimming Champs, Among College Teams Honored at White House

Denison University’s women’s swimming and diving team, this year’s NCAA Division III champion, was among the college teams that visited the White House on Monday.

An invitation was extended by President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden to Big Red Swimmers. They joined dozens of championship teams in a variety of sports and all three NCAA divisions, in what seems to be an expansion of the norm of professional sports championship teams visiting the White House to meet with the sitting president.

In all, the White House hosted more than 1,000 athletes from 47 teams in 19 sports across all three divisions. The University of Indianapolis’ men’s swimming and diving team, the Division II champs, were among those invited, as was Stanford’s women’s water polo team. Emory’s men’s team, which won the Division III title, was also on hand.

Also among those in attendance was Virginia’s women’s swimming and diving team, the three-time reigning NCAA champion. The Cavaliers visited along with the school’s championship men’s tennis squad.

It’s believed to be Denison’s first such trip to the White House for a sports championship.

“This is a unique and well-deserved opportunity for our athletes and coaches,” Denison President Adam Weinberg said in a university release. “Our athletes and coaches represent the very best of collegiate athletics. In particular, I am thrilled and grateful for the leadership of coach Gregg Parini, who has delivered seven national titles to Denison. Gregg is an outstanding coach, educator, and mentor.”

“This event happening left us all in shock,” senior co-captain Tara Culibrk said. “We have zero expectations, but one thing is for sure — we are very excited to represent our Denison team as a united front along with our coaches.”

Biden was unable to attend the event on Monday on the South Lawn due to a dental procedure, but Vice President Kamala Harris conducted the ceremony.

“In America, tens of millions of children start playing a sport as a child,” Harris said in her remarks. “Only the best of the best become a national champion, and that is you all. And I know it wasn’t easy. You made tremendous sacrifices — training through injuries, birthdays, vacations, and even a pandemic. You know, all of you, what it means to commit and to persevere.

“And we know that so often, during the course of a long season, sports teams also become a family. You develop life-long relationships. You demonstrate teamwork and character. You make the people around you better in every way. You are leaders. You are role models. And, of course, you are champions.”

Denison traveled all 18 swimmers and divers who were part of the title-winning squad in Greensboro, North Carolina, in March. They were accompanied by athletic director Nan Carney-DeBord.

The Big Red scored 464.5 points to easily outpace Emory and Kenyon to the title at the Greensboro Aquatic Center. It’s the second NCAA title for the women, along with 2021, while the  men’s team have won five Division III crowns from 2011-19.

“It’s a pretty cool opportunity for us to be recognized at this level, and it’s a chance to bring the university some additional exposure and recognition,” head coach Gregg Parini said.

UIndy sent nearly two dozen athletes as part of their delegation.

“We’re so grateful for the opportunity to continue celebrating the season we’ve had,” head coach Brent Noble said in a press release. “We’re proud to represent UIndy among the nation’s best.”

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