Preview: GVSU Swimming & Diving prepares for successful season at Intrasquad scrimmage

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Preview: GVSU Swimming & Diving prepares for successful season at Intrasquad scrimmage

GVL \ Alexis Velazquez

GVL \ Alexis Velazquez

GVL \ Alexis Velazquez

GVL \ Alexis Velazquez

Zack Goodrow, Sports Writer

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This last Saturday, Oct. 5, the Grand Valley State University swimming & diving team had an inter-squad meet on campus. The team was split up into two groups — blue and black — and the meet served as a practice meet, giving the freshmen on the team a good opportunity to see what college competition is like. Each team also had a charity jar, where the proceeds went to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. 

The blue team outscored the black team, with a final tally of  234.5 to 218.5 points. Sophomore Jesse Goodyear stood out with impressive times in long distance events for the blue team. He won the men’s 1000-meter freestyle with a time of 9:41.85. He also won the 500-meter freestyle with a time of 4:39.06.

“The whole team was very tired, so I was feeling a lot of pain like everyone else in the 1000,” Goodyear said. “I just like to get out ahead of everybody and assert my position into the race and see what I can do from there.”  

The team is ready for the season. They have multiple swimmers at every position and several strong swimmers. They have many upperclassmen who are elite in their events, and new freshmen who are ready to learn. The strongest part of the team seems to be the distance events.

“Our distance group right now is very strong,” said backstroke and butterfly swimmer Tabor Smyth. “We have Moritz Bartels and Jesse Goodyear strong at the top. We have a couple of freshmen who are pretty good in the 500 and 1000. We have a senior, John Loshinskie, who is very experienced in the distance event…Our mid distance backstroke and butterfly, we brought back the best backstroker in the nation, Harry Shalamon. We also are bringing back the best flyer from the GLIAC, Oscar Saura-Armengol, he won the 200 and 100.” 

This team is unique compared to other teams in the conference and past GVSU teams. They have many new freshmen, athletes from all around the world, and a togetherness most other teams don’t have. 

“I think everybody clicks really well on the team. Everybody is pretty good friends, but there’s no ego behind this team this year. Everybody’s goal is to help the team this year and everybody’s there to train and get better, and to help others get better,” Smyth said. “We all have the same goals, we all have the same motivation to keep going.” 

“We’re the most international team on Grand Valley’s campus and I feel like we’re one of the most heavy international teams in all of the nation. We come from a lot of different backgrounds and experiences we’ve had in the past. When you mix it all together we’re very unique and share our experiences with each other. It helps us grow as a team,” Smyth  said. 

With all those factors contributing to the strength of the team, their high goals seem achievable.

“We want to be conference champions. We want to do better in the classroom than we did last year and qualify as many people for the National Championship as we can. If we can qualify a good chunk of players for the championship, we’ll have a high finish,” said head coach Andy Boyce. “Last year we had 23 players qualify for nationals last year in Indianapolis. Men were fifth, and women were eleventh. Every year we want to be in the top ten.” 

This year the team is going to face multiple strong teams in their conference, such as Calvin College and Wayne State. Northern Michigan might be their biggest rivals, and the team is excited and prepared to face them.

“I’m fired up for the Northern Michigan meet here in a few weeks,” Goodyear said. “I have a friend who swims for them from Australia, [who] I always like to go against, kind of as a rival. I like that meet because everyone on the team is fired up and ready for them.” 

While the swimming competitions take up most of the spotlight, there are exciting things happening for the other half of the team. GVSU’s diving program is strong and still expanding. Senior diver, Mikayla Karasek, had a strong performance at the intersquad meet. Two of her dives earned a score of 6.5 and 7.

As one of the leaders on the diving side, she and her diving mates have strong goals for the season. 

“We want everyone to be able to compete and be healthy. Sometimes with some of the freshman learning how to do the three-meter dive, we want everyone to be able to compete at Calvin, and at the championship,” said Mikayla Karasek after the meet. “Obviously there’s a lot of divers this year and we haven’t had this many in a while. We’re really trying to get as many people in the top eight on the podium at conference if possible.” 

The intersquad meet was filled with cheers for the swimmers and divers. The stands were filled with family members and students, all having a good time.

They were there to support their friends and family, but also to watch the intense competition. While swimming and diving may be under the radar of some GVSU sports fans, meets are always exciting events. Many players feel the same way, and would like a large turnout at future events.  

“I feel like so much of the university doesn’t know that we’re here. I feel like if a lot of people came they would enjoy their time,” Goodyear said. “We’re a fun group to watch and when we’re  going up against other universities I feel like it’s just as fun as a football game. We’re always fighting for the win.”      

 “For most people swimming isn’t even on their radar,” said Moritz Bartels. “Swimming and diving is one of the strongest teams we have here on campus. If you really want to see some quality sport, you should definitely check us out.”

The next GVSU Swimming and Diving team event is Saturday, Oct. 12, where GVSU will compete at home against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.