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Northern Iowa Swimmer Passes Away, Cause of Death Not Released


“Northern Iowa swimmer and Iowa City West graduate Lily Ernst died Wednesday, the university announced in a school release Thursday morning,” the Des Moines Register reported.

“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.”

“Our team is incredibly saddened by the loss of Lily,” 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.”

The university did not release a cause of death.

From the Des Moines Register:

Ernst finished her sophomore season with the Panthers this past winter. As a freshman, she earned first-team all-Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) honors with a second-place finish in the 200-yard butterfly at the MVC Championships.

The former Iowa City West standout earned MVC scholar-athlete team recognition as a sophomore, while also setting a new school record in the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 2:02.97.


At Iowa City West, Ernst qualfied for the state meet in multiple events all four years of high school. Her best performance was a third-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly as a sophomore in 2017. Ernst was also a part of the Trojans’ runner-up finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay as both a junior and senior.

Ernst’s tragic death adds to the list of athletes to ‘suddenly’ die in the past two years.

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