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UNI swimmer, Iowa City native Lily Ernst passes away

Ernst, an Iowa City West graduate, earned honors as a freshman and set a school record in the 200-yard butterfly as a sophomore.
Credit: banprik - stock.adobe.com

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — The Iowa swimming community lost a beloved member Wednesday. 

University of Northern Iowa swimmer Lily Ernst passed away July 28.

Ernst, an Iowa City native, earned honors as a freshman at the Missouri Valley Conference Championships. She also set a school record in the 200-yard butterfly her second year on the team.

A media release posted Wednesday by UNI shared more about her impact on the school and her mentors. 

"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."

She was pursuing a social work major with a minor in mental health. Ernst would have been a junior this upcoming academic year. 

"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.

UNI has not released a cause of death at this time.

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