UNI mourns loss of swimmer Ernst

Lily Ernst

CEDAR FALLS — The University of Northern Iowa is mourning the loss of Panther swimmer Lily Ernst, who passed away on Wednesday.

“UNI has lost a beloved member of the Panther family with the sudden passing of Lily Ernst,” Director of Athletics David Harris said. “This loss is heartbreaking for our swimming and diving team, our athletic department and the entire UNI campus. We offer our deepest condolences to Lily’s family, teammates and friends.”

Ernst, an Iowa City native, finished her second season with the Panthers this past winter, earning first-team all-Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) honors as a freshmen with a second-place finish in the 200-yard butterfly at the MVC Championships.

A former Iowa City West standout, Ernst earned 2021-22 MVC Scholar-Athlete Team recognition as a sophomore while also setting a new school record in the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 2 minutes, 2.97 seconds.

“Our team is incredibly saddened by the loss of Lily,” Northern Iowa head swimming and diving coach Nick Lakin said. “Lily was so filled with kindness and compassion for other people. She was a ferocious competitor in the pool and classroom, but for those that knew her best she was extremely empathetic and cared deeply about everyone in her life. We will all miss her immensely and are praying for everyone that knew her.”

At Iowa City West, Ernst qualified for state in several events each of her four years. Ernst was majoring in social work with a minor in mental health at UNI.


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