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UNI mourns loss of swimmer Lily Ernst

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Lily Ernst

Lily Ernst

CEDAR FALLS — University of Northern Iowa student-athlete Lily Ernst passed away Wednesday, the school announced.

The school did not release the cause of death.

A sophomore from Iowa City, Ernst competed as a member of the Panthers’ swimming and diving team.

In the release, Director of Athletics David Harris described Ernst as a ‘beloved member of the Panther family.’

“This loss is heartbreaking for our swimming and diving team, our athletic department and the entire UNI campus,” Harris said.

“We offer our deepest condolences to Lily’s family, teammates and friends.”

Swimming and Diving coach Nick Lakin shared his condolences as well.

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

Her career at UNI included highlights of breaking the 200-yard butterfly record for the program and earning All-MVC First Team honors in the 2020-21 season.

She also received 2021-22 MVC Scholar Athlete Team honors after earning 4.0 while majoring in social work with a minor in mental health.

In her obituary, Ernst is described as having the heart of a champion and as a strong advocate for women’s and human rights.

Visitation for Lily will be held 4-7 p.m. on Tuesday at Iowa City West High School, 2901 Melrose Ave, Iowa City.

A funeral service for Lily is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday also at Iowa City West High School.

Memorial contributions in Lily’s honor may be made to the Lily Ernst Memorial Fund for mental health.


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