GIRLS' SWIMMING: Amity's Dana Grindall named New Haven Register Area MVP (photos)
When it comes to being selected the Register All-Area Most Valuable Player in any sport, it requires a perfect storm of events to be tabbed for the honor more than once.
Amity senior Dana Grindall has been one of those rare athletes who has been able to maintain, develop and improve on an elite level of productivity for the girls’ swim team.
Thanks to her continued success, Grindall, a four-time All-American, has been selected the Register Girls’ Swimming All-Area MVP for the third straight season.
During the dual meet regular season she dominated in her specialty events — the 100-yard butterfly and 50 freestyle — to lead the Spartans to a 11-0 overall record and a 10-0 record in the Southern Connecticut Conference.
She won the 100 butterfly at the CIAC State Open in 54.16 seconds to break her own meet and state record of 54.20. She was third in the 50 freestyle at the State Open. She won the 100 butterfly at the CIAC Class LL meet (55.24) and was second in the 50 freestyle (24.05).
At the Southern Connecticut Conference meet she won the 100 butterfly (56.38) and 50 freestyle (24.14).
As a team the Spartans finished second at the SCC meet, third in the Class LL meet and fourth at the State Open.
“Dana is obviously an incredible swimming talent,” Amity girls’ swim coach Todd Rainey said. “She won the butterfly at the State Open championships four years in a row, breaking the CIAC record as a sophomore, junior, and as a senior.
“As a competitor, she’s fierce. As a trainer she’s seemingly tireless, and she is a natural leader. Her energy is contagious and the rest of the team feeds off it.”
While many swimmers focus on doing well at the SCC meet and then the CIAC class meets, Grindall’s only focus was to produce a peak performance at the CIAC State Open all four seasons.
“Other girls focused on all three postseason meets, but I always wanted to finish strong at the State Open,” Grindall said. “For me that was the important meet. I used the other meets to prepare myself for that main event.
“Fortunately over the years I was able to perform at a high enough level for success at all the postseason meets.”
Grindall said she never envisioned the kind of success she has had with the Spartans when she came to the team as a freshman.
“As much as I wanted to improve my times, the big thing was being able to help contribute to my team’s success,” Grindall said. “Swimming for my club team and in national events, there is always a certain amount of pressure. Here at high school it was always fun for me.
“I could let my hair down and enjoy myself. It’s so sad now because I can’t picture myself swimming without these girls on my high school team.”
The highlight of Grindall’s young swimming career was competing at the United States Olympic swim trials in July. She is a member of the USA Junior National team, competed in the 2012 Junior Pan-Pacific championships and is a member of the National Honor Society.
Grindall was recruited by several Division I colleges and was going to go to Tennessee. But she decided to make one last college visit to the University of Wisconsin. The women’s swim team at Wisconsin reminded her of her club team, Grindall fell in love with the campus, and she had a change of heart and decided to commit to Wisconsin.
“Dana always got as much joy from seeing her teammates succeed as she did from being overwhelmed by her own competition,” Rainey said. “For four years she set the success of Amity girls swimming as her top priority and her teammates followed her example. As good as Dana has been over the past several years, I have no doubt that her best years are ahead of her.
“The University of Wisconsin is a perfect fit for her, and we definitely will be hearing more news of Dana’s accomplishments when she gets there. Dana has left an indelible mark on the Amity girls’ swimming and diving team and she will be sorely missed.”
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