Denison Women Celebrating D-III Title With First Trip to White House in School History

Division III national championships are nothing new for Denison University’s swimming and diving program, but they don’t typically come with a trip to the White House.

The Big Red will get their moment in the spotlight next week when the reigning D-III champion women’s team travels to Washington, D.C. for a College Athlete Day recognition ceremony featuring a wide variety of national champs from all three NCAA divisions.

The Denison women’s swimming and diving squad will be the first team in school history to be honored at the White House, which has hosted the tradition since 1865.

Invites have often been limited to Division I basketball and football teams, but Denison athletic director Nan Carney-DeBord said she thinks the hiring of new NCAA president Charlie Baker played a part in the White House expanding access to Division II and Division III champions. Baker’s oldest son, Charles, played football for the Big Red about a decade ago.

“To be invited to the White House is truly an honor,” Carney-DeBord said. “And our women’s team is definitely worthy of the honor.”

Denison head coach Gregg Parini will be making his first White House trip with a team following his seventh national championship with the Big Red. He has won two titles with the women (2001, 2023) and five with the men (2011, 2012, 2016, 2018, 2019) since taking over both programs back in 1987.

“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,” Parini said.

All 18 Denison swimmers who competed at the NCAA Championships this March in Greensboro, North Carolina, are expected to attend the event. That includes co-captain Tara Culibrk, who is transferring to Division I University of Pittsburgh next season for her fifth year.

“This event happening left us all in shock,” said Culibrk, who collected top-three finishes in the 50 free (22.81), 100 free (49.88), and 200 free (1:49.03) at the NCAA Division III Championships in March. “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.”

It’s been 34 years since a North Coast Conference national champion in any sport visited the White House.

“This is a unique and well-deserved opportunity for our athletes and coaches,” Denison president Adam Weinberg said. “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.”

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Ice Golem
3 months ago

D3? White House is desperate for any positive media coverage

Comfy Pants
3 months ago

Huge congrats to Denison women and Emory men!!!

Mary Bretscher
3 months ago

Yes, Emory men are going. Also, in 2013 DePauw University’s Women’s National Championship Basketball team were invited & visited the White House. Barack Obama was President.

3 months ago

Did Emory’s men’s team get an invite?

Reply to  PFA
3 months ago

Not sure – they didn’t announce if they did. We asked but haven’t heard back yet.

Emory swimmer
Reply to  Braden Keith
3 months ago

We pulling up

Mugs Berdelman
3 months ago

So darn proud of these amazing Women!!! #BAWBs #DIIINationalChamps
What an honor for you all and so very deserving!

James Beam
3 months ago

Did Jill Biden invite any runner-up teams as she did for basketball?

3 months ago

So Proud of the DU Women’s swim team. Gregg, Congratulations on this honor. You and the team deserve this honor. As an alum, you taught us so many lessons and the lesson of what it takes to be a Champion is one I use everyday. What work are you willing to put in, what sacrifices are you willing to take? And what joy will you get out the process… Thanks Coach. Proud to be one of your former Athletes… Wolfie

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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