Business Swimmers Team Photo

Championing excellence

April 5, 2024


Katelyn Pennell

During the last four years, senior Katelyn Pennell has spent 20 hours a week with her best friends — members of the women’s swimming and diving team at the University of Richmond.

“Working hard with people you enjoy being with makes it all the better,” Pennell said. “You want to push yourself so much more. The best part of swimming is being part of the team.”

Pennell and fellow teammate Laura Davis were recently recognized at the UR’s annual scholar-athlete breakfast for their contributions in and out of the pool. Swimming and diving was awarded this year’s women’s academic team award for the third consecutive year. The program earned the country’s second-highest GPA (3.82) among women’s swimming and diving teams. Pennell was named the Scholar-Athlete of the Year for her top GPA among student-athletes in the Robins School. The team also clinched second place at the A-10 championships.

Laura Davis

Pennell, who is studying accounting and marketing, chose to study business because of its versatility. “I wanted a degree that would work both sides of my brain — computationally and creatively.”

Davis, a junior who is also an accounting student, said her first class in the subject “just made sense.” Both student-athletes asked Joe Hoyle, a professor of accounting, to join them as their faculty guest for the awards ceremony.

They looked back fondly on their upper-level accounting course with him. “I thought it was really fun,” Davis said. “He teaches in such a unique way — it’s been my favorite class so far.” Pennell agrees and says she’s never had a class like Hoyle’s where she is on the edge of her seat the whole time.

Along with several other swimmers in the business school, the teammates are never far apart. “It made coming to college so much easier because I have a group of people there for me academically and in the pool,” Davis said. “It keeps you disciplined and structured. It’s a great team culture.”

Matt Barany has been the team's head coach since 2005 and has led them to earn Scholar All-America Team honors from the College Swimming Coaches Association for 11 consecutive years. Barany is also an UR alum, receiving his MBA in 2014.

“When we recruit swimmers, we’re looking for those who hit their stride in the classroom. These two have nailed it,” he said of Pennell and Davis. “They achieve high marks, but they’ve also benefitted from dynamic professors and opportunities from the B-school. In the water, they are some of our hardest workers while keeping things light. Laura arrives at every practice with a smile, and KP brings her trademark sense of humor. When they dive in, they’re all business.”

Pennell retired from the sport at her last conference meet in February. Her post-graduation plans include a conditional offer from the FBI as part of its collegiate program. With another year in the water, Davis will return to the team in the fall after spending the summer with Grant Thornton in Charlotte, North Carolina, for an auditing internship.