Bartels one of many international swimmers ready to make an impact

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Bartels one of many international swimmers ready to make an impact

Courtesy / Zachary Goodrow

Courtesy / Zachary Goodrow

Courtesy / Zachary Goodrow

Courtesy / Zachary Goodrow

Zackary Goodrow, Staff Reporter

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Earlier this month, the Grand Valley State University swim team won the CSCAA Open Water Collegiate Championship in Kansas at Lone Star Lake. Open water swimming, which takes place out of a pool, is not an NCAA sport yet, mainly taking place in the Olympics.

The team came together with good conditions in the lake and won with a total score of 22. Junior Moritz Bartels took first place in the men’s 5km with a time of 58 minutes and 46.5 seconds. 

“Moritz is one of the best in the 5km,” said GVSU swim coach Andy Boyce. “He beat the field by a minute and a half. He led pretty much from start to finish. I was really pleased to see how he performed, and it was fun to see him in his element. I think he likes open water a little bit more than the pool.” 

Coming from Zweibruecken, Germany, Bartels lived with his family, who loves swimming as much as he does. His older brother Felix, 23, swam for the University of Tampa and his younger brother, Maximillian, 15, swims in Canada.

Bartels went to a small boarding school for athletics in Germany.  Faced with the possibility of giving up swimming, Bartels heard about GVSU from a friend, Melina Goebel, who is now also on the GVSU swim team. 

“In Germany, it is really hard to combine athletics and college because we don’t have college sports,” Bartels said. “I wanted to do both and that’s why America is great for me. When Melina was in (Germany), she told me about GVSU, and I got in contact with Andy, our head coach. I had a good feeling from the start. He was really kind to me.” 

Coming to the United States from a different country is a difficult adjustment itself, let alone going to a new university. Adjusting to the language was difficult for Bartels at first, and so was dealing with the brutal Michigan winters. Despite facing these adversities, Bartels still likes the culture, new experiences and the people.

“Being able to learn the language and meet so many people is great,” Bartels said. “I think college is the part of your life where you really make friends. It’s so easy to just go to class and meet people. That’s the best part about GVSU.”

There were also adjustments he needed to make doing the sport he loves. In Germany, swimming is more of an individualist sport. Here at GVSU, the combination of the team and the friends he’s made has helped him make these adjustments. 

“At home my team used to be a lot smaller, but here I have fifty people around me that have the same goals and makes for a really fun practice,” Bartels said. “Also, outside of practice we do a lot together and I enjoy it a lot. The team spirit here is so much different. At home you do everything for yourself, it’s an individual sport. Here, you swim for your team at conference and you fight for them. It makes it a lot of fun for me.” 

Bartels not only made the adjustments to a new culture and swim team, but he also brings his best effort and unique techniques to practice. 

“He really pays attention to details,” said coach Andy Boyce. “His technique is so strong and he’s not afraid to push himself in practice every day. He’s always looking to do more things in practice. He has a really good teammate in Jesse Goodyear who pushes him every day.”

Sophomore Jesse Goodyear, who is from Sydney, Australia, finished in fourth at the meet, and pushes Bartels every day in practice. The two push each other to their limits, and it affects the rest of the team.

“It’s a two-way street really at practice,” Goodyear said. “If he’s feeling a little bit tired and he’s pushing it, I’ll see that. If he’s tired but still pushing, then that makes me push it when I’m tired. I’m trying consistently to keep competition between him and me there. There’s honestly never a time to slack off.”

Bartels agrees, and said he appreciates Goodyear. The way they practice together can keep Bartels focused on his goals.

“My buddy Jesse and I practice a lot together,” Bartels said. “We swim hard sets together and I think everyone on the team sees that. The team spirit is really good. We all work really hard. I’m not too outgoing in practice. I’m like the calm guy.” 

This bond not only between Bartels and Goodyear makes the GVSU swim team pretty good, but the diversity and chemistry of all members make it great.

Courtesy / Zachary Goodrow

“The great thing about our swim team here is the diversity,” Bartels said. “We really have swimmers from all around the world and everybody has different experiences. That just makes it a really great team.”

For the remainder of the season, Bartels wants to keep winning and get people involved with the team.

“The season just started for us, but I really hope we can win our conference,” Bartels said. “We want to bring as many people to Nationals this year.” 

Bartels knows his goals for the rest of the semester, but still doesn’t know if he wants to live in America after school or go back home.

“I’m not sure about going back to Germany,” Bartels said. “I’m studying business right now and (am) getting a master’s degree. I’m going to keep swimming and try to combine everything and see what happens. I’m not sure if I’m going to do that here or at home in Germany, we’ll see.” 

The next event for the GVSU swim team is Friday, Oct. 5, in the GVSU Fieldhouse Pool at 1 p.m.