Denison University and the men’s and women’s swimming & diving program has become synonymous with success. Since 1987 the driving force behind Denison swimming & diving has been Gregg Parini.
Over the past 32 seasons, Parini has built one of the most successful programs in the history of Division III athletics, highlighted by six NCAA Division III national championships, 16 national runner-up finishes and a streak of 64 consecutive top-10 national finishes across both genders. As new personal bests are set, records are broken, and new banners are raised to the rafters of the Trumbull Aquatics Center, there has been one constant, Sempre Avanti. Translated from the Italian phrase meaning “Always Forward,” the motto has provided the foundation for personal growth and competitive drive that has become Big Red Swimming & Diving’s calling card.
Parini began his coaching career in 1984 as a volunteer assistant women's coach at Michigan State University where he earned his master’s in counseling psychology. Since then he has held coaching positions for the Upper Arlington Swim Club, Mount Union, and East Lansing High School. He was also the National Coaching Advisor for the Isle of Mauritius.
He is a 1982 graduate of Kenyon College where he was a member of Jim Steen’s first national championship team in 1979. A tri-captain for the 1981-82 season, he led the team to its third NCAA crown in as many years. Parini was an 18-time All-American, a seven-time Division III National Champion, and left Kenyon with five national records. He was voted the team’s most valuable swimmer in 1981 and Senior Athlete of the Year in 1982 by the Kenyon athletic department. In May of 2002, he was inducted into Kenyon College’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Five of Parini’s swimmers have gone on to compete at the US Olympic Trials in 12 events. In 2004, Darius Grigaliunas qualified for the Olympics in Athens, Greece as a member of the Lithuanian national team.
In addition to his coaching efforts, Parini has also made an impact in the community of Granville. He is a volunteer youth baseball and hockey coach for both the Granville Recreation Commission and the Newark Ice Hockey Association. He also volunteers with the Market Street Pantry and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.
Parini is currently a member of the College Swimming Coaches Association of America, the American Swimming Coaches Association, United States Swimming and the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association. He resides in Granville with his wife, Alice, and is the father of six sons; Joseph, Solomon, Gabe, Andrew, Ted, and Simon.
Coach Parini in the classroom
Parini currently holds the rank of Professor in the Department of Health, Exercise and Sport Studies where he teaches classes in exercise physiology. Parini served as the chair of the major from 2008-10. In 2007, he was awarded the Charles A. Brickman Teaching Excellence Award which is given annually to one Denison faculty member who has demonstrated a vibrant interest in the learning process, as well as an understanding of teaching as a continuously evolving art form. Parini was described by his colleagues as someone who embraces the teaching and mentoring of students, not just as a profession, but as a calling.
In May of 2011, he the recipient of the National Collegiate and Scholastic Trophy, which is the highest award given by the Collegiate Swimming Coaches Association of America. Parini has represented the athletics department on the Board of Trustees recruiting panel and he has been a faculty representative on Denison’s Judicial Board. In 1999 he was a facilitator in the college’s SWOT analysis Think Tank. He is also a regular keynote speaker at coaching conventions across the United States.
Women’s Swimming under Coach Parini
In 2001, Denison women’s swimming captured the college’s first-ever NCAA Division III national championship in Buffalo, N.Y, unseating the defending champion by 16 points. The individuals and accomplishments that led up to the program’s first national title started upon Parini’s appointment as head coach in 1987 and have continued to mature to the present date.
The numbers surrounding Denison women’s swimming & diving are astounding: 12 consecutive top-four team finishes at nationals (dating back to 2008); 28 individual event national champions; 22 relay national titles; One national swimmer of the year and one national diver of the year; nine conference championships. Parini has been named the Division III Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year four times (1990, 1996, 1998, and 2001). He is also a nine-time North Coast Athletic Conference Women’s Coach of the Year.
Fifteen Denison women’s swimmers have received Postgraduate Scholarships from the NCAA. In 2005, three-time national champion, Jill Boo, was a finalist for NCAA Woman of the Year. Two student-athletes, Kristen Goldthorpe (1997) and Kristen Hohl (2009) 2009 were named Academic All-American’s of the Year by the College Sports Information Directors of America. Six women’s swimmers have gone on to receive Denison’s most prestigious award upon graduation, the President’s Medal, and 18 of Parini’s former female student-athletes have been inducted into Denison’s Varsity D Association Hall of Fame.
The women’s swimming & diving team is consistently recognized by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America for its prowess in the classroom. Parini’s squads have received the CSCAA’s Scholar All-America team award every semester since his arrival in 1987.
Men’s Swimming under Coach Parini
In 2019, Denison men’s swimming & diving won its fifth NCAA Division III national championship since 2011 and they did it in emphatic fashion, winning the title by 115 points over the second-place finisher.
From 1988 through 2010, Denison’s men had logged 20 top-5 national team finishes but the breakthrough occurred in 2011 when the Big Red shocked the swimming & diving world by snapping Kenyon College’s 31-year streak of national championships, a streak that Parini helped start as a collegiate swimmer in 1979. Denison ended the streak by rallying from 36 points down on the final day to win by one point, marking the closest finish in the history of NCAA swimming, at any level.
Academic success and remarkable achievements in the pool has been a constant throughout Parini’s tenure. He has been named the Division III Men’s Swimming Coach of the Year six times (1994, 1996, 2006, 2011, 2012, and 2016) and has been voted NCAC Coach of the Year, 10-times. Aaron Cole was named National Swimmer of the Year in 1999 and 2000 and Jack Lindell was voted the nation’s top swimmer in 2016. Since 1996, 12 male swimmers have gone on to win 35 individual event national championships and 16 relay national titles. Currently, the Denison men are riding a 14-year streak of top-3 team finishes at nationals. At the conference level, Denison has won 12 NCAC Championships and are currently riding a streak of 11 consecutive NCAC titles that dates to 2009.
Eight men have been awarded NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships under Parini and 17 have been named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America team. Denison’s Varsity D Association has inducted eight of his former male swimmers into its Hall of Fame through 2018. Parini’s men’s teams have received the CSCAA’s Scholar All-America team award in 30 of the last 31 years.